Air Transport World

Hawaiian:long-haul feed for short-haul routes. (Hawaiian Air)

Hawaiian: Long-haul feed for short-haul routes

On the U.S. mainland, one of the chief effects of deregulation has been the development of hub and spoke route systems by airlines aiming to provide feed to their long-haul flights. More than 5,000 miles from Washington, where the deregulation rumpus originated, Hawaiian Air has made dramatic changes as well, but in reverse--it has been purchasing large equipment and developing long-range operations to feed its traditional short-haul inter-island system.

Deregulation pushed two major challenges at Hawaiian. Just like the mainland experience, deregulation permitted new airlines like Mid Pacific to invade the inter-island markets with low-cost, low-fare competition. But for Hawaiian, deregulation also allowed additional mainland carriers to fly to Hawaii--and to provide direct service to the various islands, reducing Hawaiian Air's normal pool of inter-island traffic.

To meet these challenges, Hawaiian has taken a number of steps. It is downsizing its fleet, buying smaller and cheaper transports for inter-island service. In contrast, last year it launched Lockheed L-1011 service to the mainland. And it is about to build a new feeder airport on Maui.

Hawaiian Air began life as Inter-Island Airways in 1929, and on November 11 of that year it launched scheduled service from Honolulu to the islands of Maui and Hawaii with two Sikorsky S-38 amphibians making three weekly roundtrips. In the early 1940s it changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines, later shortening it to Hawaiian Air. In its 55 years of life it has grown into an airline with a fleet of 26 aircraft ranging from L-1011s to de Havilland Dash 7s and is carrying 3.6 million passengers a year on 175 departures a day. Hawaiian now serves seven destinations on six Hawaiian islands, several cities on the U.S. mainland, and American Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific.

Before deregulation, Hawaiian shared the island market with Aloha. The pie has not grown much since deregulation, but it has been cut into many more pieces. Since Hawaiian Air officials estimate that traffic to Hawaii will only rise about 10% a year, and that inter-island traffic growth will lag far behind that figure, they decided their carrier had to expand outside the islands if it was to grow. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.