Historical Highlights

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Ka Mōʻaukala o ka Hui Mokulele o Hawaiʻi

The History of Hawaiian Airlines


James Kennedy merged Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company with Wilder Steamship Co. to form the largest fleet of steamers serving Hawaiʻi.


Stanley C. Kennedy, a Silver Star Navy pilot, convinced the board of directors of Inter-Island Steam Navigation of the importance of air service to the Territory and formed Inter-Island Airways.


In October, a Bellanca monoplane offered sightseeing service for $5 per person (the original Bellanca has been restored and can regularly be seen flying above O‘ahu).

On November 11, Inter-Island Airways’ first scheduled flight from Honolulu to Hilo, stopping at Maui, took three hours, 15 minutes.

Fleet consisted of two 8-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibian airplanes.


10,367 passengers carried.


First Neighbor Island airmail service contract awarded to Inter-Island Airways.


Added two 16-passenger Sikorsky S-43s to the fleet.

13,000 passengers carried.


28,000 passengers carried.


Name changed to Hawaiian Airlines to pave the way for transpacific operations.

Wings logo adopted.

Three new 24-passenger DC-3s were flown in formation from Oakland, Calif., to Honolulu in 13 hours and 54 minutes—then the longest over-water flight made by a DC-3.

On December 7, Hawaiian Airlines DC-3 #9 had its cockpit struck by Japanese fire at Pearl Harbor. The cockpit caught fire, but a stray bullet hit the fire extinguisher, putting out the fire. No one was hurt, and this event made Ripley's “Believe It or Not.”


Hawaiian Airlines becomes the first scheduled air cargo service, earning U.S. Cargo service certificate #1.



First hostesses hired.

108,000 passengers carried.


The National Safety Council presented Hawaiian Airlines a 20-year award, the first airline in history to receive this honor.


First pressurized, air-conditioned cabin service with 44-passenger Convair 340s, each aircraft costing $520,000.


Five DC-3s converted windows to larger "Viewmaster" windows.


Long-range, four-engine DC-6s were added.


498,861 passengers carried.


Charter service from Los Angeles to Hawai‘i begins.



Hawai‘i’s first Neighbor Island jet service with 99-passenger DC-9-10s.

Logo changed to a Jetbird to symbolize change over to jet service.


Pualani (flower of the sky) and new unified livery introduced.


130-passenger DC-9-50s added to fleet.


3 million-plus passengers carried.


First all-female crew operates a certified scheduled U.S. air carrier.


Frequent Flyer program begins as Travel Plus.


Worldwide charter service with DC-8s and scheduled service to the South Pacific.


First Transpacific commercial service for a Hawai‘i-based carrier.


Frequent Flyer program renamed to Gold Plus.


Widebody DC-10s replaced the L-1011 fleet.


Frequent flyer program renamed HawaiianMiles to more closely identify with the airline.


Hawaiian Airlines introduces the Boeing 767 and Boeing 717 fleet to replace the DC-9 and DC-10 jets.

Pualani and aircraft livery updated for introduction of new fleet.


Boeing 767s replace all DC-10s, making Hawaiian Airlines’ fleet among the youngest in the industry.

Becomes the first airline in the industry without prior ETOPS experience to receive 180-minute approval from the FAA with the Boeing 767. 


Hawaiian Airlines marks a full year as America’s most punctual airline and introduces non-stop service to Sydney, Australia. (Hawaiian has retained the title of the nation’s most punctual airline ever since).


Hawaiian Airlines marks its 80th anniversary and transports record-setting 8.3 million passengers.

In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Hawaiian Airlines welcomes back the 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, which was restored.


The first Airbus A330-200 arrives, signaling a transformation in the fleet and giving Hawaiian Airlines the capability of significantly extending its range.

Launches daily non-stop service to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport.


Begins non-stop service to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, South Korea and Kansai International Airport, Japan.


Launches daily non-stop service to New York’s, JFK Airport; Sapporo, Japan; and Brisbane, Australia.


Launches non-stop service to Auckland, New Zealand and Sendai, Japan.

Installs its first A330-200 Full-Flight Simulator offering on-site training at its headquarters for A330 pilots.


Launches its new turboprop service, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, and returns the islands of Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i to its route network. Its aircraft livery features a special kapa pattern designed by local artist Sig Zane.

Launches non-stop service to Beijing, China.

Unveils new premium economy seating on its A330 aircraft called Extra Comfort.

Celebrates its 85th anniversary and unveils a memorial wall at Kahului Airport honoring Capt. James Bertram Hogg, the Hawaiian Airlines pilot whose name was used for the airport’s three-letter code (OGG). The airline also launches statewide community service projects held on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i the Big Island.

Publishes a special commemorative book highlighting 85 years of its history and legacy.


Completes a comprehensive retrofit on the first of its 18 Boeing 717 aircraft, featuring an island-inspired interior cabin redesign and new lightweight Main Cabin seating from Acro Aircraft Seating Ltd.

Completes a two-phase, multimillion-dollar renovation of each of its five Premier Clubs including the flagship location at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, O‘ahu, and locations in Kahului, Līhuʻe, Hilo and Kona.

Announces the launch of its Featured Chef Series, an inflight culinary program featuring specially-designed menu creations from five of Hawai‘i’s burgeoning top chefs including: Jon Matsubara of Japengo; Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Café; Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant; Andrew Le of The Pig & The Lady; and Sheldon Simeon of Mala Wailea and MiGRANT.

Announces it will introduce new luxury design elements and enhanced service options in its A330 premium cabins, including the addition of 180-degree lie-flat seats. The premier global carrier for leisure travel to Hawai’i has developed its new seats in partnership with Optimares, an Italian manufacturer focused on traveler-centric design.


Begins sales of its Premium Cabin with lie-flat seating on flights between Honolulu and Narita, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and New York(JFK).

Launches Bid Up by Hawaiian Airlines, an auction upgrade service allowing guests to elevate their in-flight experience by bidding on available First Class seats when traveling between Hawai‘i and North America.

Unveils new uniforms for its more than 5,000 front-line employees including Airport Customer Service, Cabin Service, Cargo, In-Flight, Line Service, Maintenance, Ramp, and Supply. The new designs are a collaboration among Affinity Apparel, renowned Hilo-based design firm Sig Zane Kaiao, and a committee of 40 front-line Hawaiian employees representing a variety of job functions.

Collaborates with The Walt Disney Studios to reveal three custom Airbus A330 aircraft adorned with imagery from the CG-animated comedy adventure “Moana.” The decal designs feature four characters from the movie, including the demigod Maui, the adventurous teenager Moana, and her two friends: Heihei the rooster and Pua the pig.

Partners with Korean celebrity chef Chang-Wook Chung to create in-flight meals for all guests traveling from Incheon to Honolulu.

Launches non-stop service between Haneda and Kona International Airports, bringing flights from Japan back to the Island of Hawaiʻi for the first time since 2010.


Named 2016’s World’s Most Punctual Airline by air travel intelligence company OAG and also Airline of the Year by Incheon International Airport.

Launches daily nonstop service between Kaua‘i’s Līhu'e Airport (LIH) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawai‘i Island.

Becomes the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific project that enlists commercial airlines in the research of climate change and air quality worldwide by partnering with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS).

Celebrates its maiden flight to Kapalua Airport (JHM) in West Maui using the carrier’s 48-seat, ATR-42 turboprop ‘Ohana by Hawaiian aircraft, exactly 30 years to the day the airport opened, and Hawaiian Airlines launched its original inaugural service.

Unveils new brand identity and livery in partnership with global creative consultancy group Lippincott. Pualani is refreshed and the aircraft design now includes a silver maile lei with woven pakalana flowers around the fuselage.


Peter Ingram becomes the carrier’s president and CEO, replacing Mark Dunkerley, who led the company since 2002.

Launches Ola Pono (Live Well) – the in-flight health and wellness video series made exclusively for the airline. 

Executes a non-binding Letter of Intent for the purchase of 10 Boeing 787-9 aircraft with purchase rights for an additional 10 aircraft. Begins codeshare flights and seeks antitrust immunized venture with Japan Airlines (JAL) to combine JAL’s network of over 30 domestic cities and 11 international destinations and Hawaiian’s convenient flight connections throughout its island chain.

Becomes the official airline partner of Raw Elements USA to encourage guests to help reduce human impact on Hawaii’s coral reefs.

Celebrates 10 years of service at Oakland International Airport.

Announces next roster of the Featured Chef Series, led by Hawaiian Airlines Executive Chef Lee Anne Wong, which includes Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of Pili Group, Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant, Eric Oto of Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, and celebrity chef Chang-Wook Chung of Seoul’s Kumsan Restaurant.

Launches daily non-stop service to Long Beach, becoming Hawaiian’s 12th U.S. gateway city.

Unveils the enhanced Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® and Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® that allow cardmembers to earn more miles faster and embark on their next vacation sooner.

Extends partnership with The Oakland Raiders for the 2018 NFL season for the 19th year straight.

Initiates new all-cargo service operated by a new fleet of ATR-72 aircraft between Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Līhu‘e Airport (LIH) and Hilo International Airport (ITO).

Recognizes 89th birthday and celebrates 90th year of service as Hawaii’s airline with an employee pledge drive that surpassed its $90,000 company-matched goal, with funds dedicated to four local charities, including Aloha United Way, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

Expands Bid-Up to Asia, which completes final phase of the program to include all transpacific flights.

Enhances check-in experience for guests by assigning dedicated lobbies for international, North America and Neighbor Island flights at its HNL hub.