Hawaiian Airlines enters its second decade of service to Australia with plans to boost existing services Down Under and fend off increased competition with Qantas’ offshoot Jetstar.
From a single route to Sydney 10 years ago, Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines now boasts flights to not only the NSW capital but also Brisbane and Auckland. Brisbane launched in Novermber 2012 and Auckland began in March 2013 as part of a growth period for Hawaiian, which has added new destination in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, among others, from Honolulu in recent years.
While some routes have not performed as hoped, with Fukuoka to be cut in June and Taipei dropped in April after just 10 months, the airline has been happy with Brisbane.
“Brisbane has been a very successful market for us,” Hawaiian chief executive Mark Dunkerley told analysts during the airline’s first quarter results presentation in late April.
“We have been pleased and surprised at the size of the market and its robustness.
“We think our competitive strengths in the marketplace is unmatched.
“We have got the right product, we have got a good cost base and we have many more years of experience in the distribution channels in Australia than we have in some of these other countries that are newly launched for us.”
Things look to be heating up on the Brisbane-Honolulu market though, with Jetstar set to commence two to three times per week service from December, ending Hawaiian’s monopoly on the route.
The two carriers already compete on Sydney-Honolulu alongside Qantas.
Hawaiian added a fourth weekly service to Brisbane in March and from December this year will increase capacity by swapping out Boeing 767-300ER, which seat 264 passengers, with larger 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the route.
The airline’s chief commercial officer Peter Ingram said it was not the first time Hawaiian had gone head-to-head with Jetstar.
“I think there are different strengths and weaknesses each of us bring and we are pretty comfortable with our competitive situation vis-à-vis Jetstar,” Ingram said.
Hawaiian is one of Virgin Australia’s codeshare partners, with members of the two airlines’ respective frequent flyer programs able to earn and burn points on their respective networks.
Figures from Hawaiian show tourist numbers from Australia to Hawaii had increased from 91,911 in 2002 to 305,783 in 2012.
“Australia has become an important part of our network and over the last decade has become an increasingly important part of the overall tourism base in Hawaii,” Ingram said.