HONOLULU, March 13, 2001 -- Hula and chant, music from the Royal Hawaiian Band and an inaugural flight around Oahu today marked the introduction of the first new Boeing 717-200 aircraft into Hawaiian Airlines' interisland service.

The first plane in what will be an entirely new interisland fleet was christened "'I'iwi" and applauded by Hawaii dignitaries and Hawaiian Airlines employees as it took to the skies at Honolulu International Airport on its official inaugural flight.

The new 717 will begin scheduled service between Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, on Thursday, March 15. It will be joined by at least 12 more brand-new Boeing 717-200 aircraft by year's end, phasing out the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 model that has been the standard of interisland air travel for 30 years.

"These new 717s will bring a never-before-experienced level of dependability, efficiency and passenger comfort to air travel between the Islands," said Paul J. Casey, Hawaiian Airlines Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "They will establish Hawaiian Airlines as Hawaii's premier airline, operating the quietest, most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft in the skies."

The new plane is easily recognizable because Hawaiian Airlines' bold new Pualani logo -- an updated version of the airline's familiar symbol -- is emblazoned larger than life on the tail assembly.

Robert W. Zoller, Hawaiian Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer, said it was fitting that today's inaugural ceremonies involved lawmakers from around the state and officials from each of the four counties.

Carrying forward a tradition that began in 1929, when Territorial Gov. Lawrence Judd spoke at the launch of the company's first interisland air service, Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano offered remarks in honor of the arrival of the first 717 to be delivered to Hawaiian Airlines.

First Lady Vicky Cayetano poured champagne over the nose of the twin-jet, formally christening it with the name 'I'iwi. Each of the planes in the new fleet will be named after native Hawaiian birds. The 'I'iwi is a honeycreeper of magnificent scarlet plumage that often symbolizes royal bearing in Hawaiian chant.

In keeping with a Hawaiian Airlines tradition, a blessing of the new aircraft was conducted by the Rev. Richard Kamanu, pastor of Kapaa First Hawaiian Church on Kauai.

The Royal Hawaiian Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Aaron Mahi, added a musical flourish to the event. Dancers from Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu represented the past with their stirring performance of the ancient, or kahiko tradition of hula, while the children of Halau Hula Olana represented the future.

In an agreement valued at $430 million, Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (AMEX and PCX: HA) will acquire 13 new Boeing 717s, and has rights to purchase up to seven more. The Boeing 717 is built specifically for short-range, high-frequency airline routes.

Boeing Vice President Doug Groseclose, who represented the airplane manufacturer at the ceremony, said the 717 makes effective use of the latest technology, resulting in low operating costs and the lowest noise and fuel emissions in its class, while providing breakthrough simplicity in design and big-jet passenger comfort.

Founded as Inter-Island Airways, Hawaiian Airlines launched the first commercial airline service in Hawaii on November 11, 1929, and over the years has relied heavily on DC-3s, DC-9s and DC-10s. From its Honolulu hub, Hawaiian serves the islands of Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai and the Big Island of Hawaii. As the nation's 12th largest carrier, Hawaiian operates a fleet of 14 DC-10s on daily flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Its DC-10 South Pacific service links Honolulu with American Samoa and Tahiti.

In June, Hawaiian Airlines will begin serving San Diego with daily nonstop flights. Hawaiian currently offers daily service between Hawaii and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas.

Additional information about Hawaiian Airlines is available on the company's Web site at www.hawaiianair.com.