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Hawaii Welcomes First Kiwi Travelers in Two-Plus Years

AKL HNL

Hawaiian Airlines this weekend resumed its three-times-weekly service between Auckland Airport (AKL) and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), welcoming the first Kiwi travelers to Hawaiʻi in two-plus years.

HA445 resumed on July 2 and will depart HNL on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 2:25 p.m. and arrive at AKL at 9:45 p.m. the next day. HA446 resumed today, July 4, and will depart AKL on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 11:55 p.m. with a 10:50 a.m. same-day arrival at HNL, allowing guests to settle in and explore O‘ahu or connect to any Hawaiian Airlines’ four Neighbor Island destinations. 

“As Hawaiʻi’s hometown carrier, we are delighted to be the first airline to reconnect New Zealand with the Hawaiian Islands since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing strong demand – with some travel periods surpassing 2019 levels – proving that Hawaiʻi has remained a top-of-mind destination for New Zealand travelers,” said Russell Williss, country director of New Zealand at Hawaiian Airlines. “It’s been a joy to reunite with our Kiwi guests, and we look forward to serving them with the same warm Hawaiian hospitality and award-winning service they know, love and miss.”

The carrier commemorated its momentous return with live entertainment, gifts, and a Hawaiian Oli and blessing before both HA445 and HA446 departures. Hawaiian Airlines employees and guests on HA445 were welcomed back to Auckland by Māori roopu (cultural group), who performed a traditional Mihi Whakatau (welcome back ceremony) and cultural exchange of hospitality outside the arrival gate.

“Our return to Aotearoa (New Zealand) represents our commitment to and love for the country and its people. It has been nine years since we first spread our wings in Auckland, and we have become akin to family. Several of our colleagues live and work in Auckland and have joined hands with the community to organize cleanups of remote shorelines, exchange trips for kiwi and Hawaiʻi youth, and the movement of historical relics that are symbolic of a cultural connection that dates back thousands of years,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of cultural and community relations at Hawaiian Airlines. 

“We like to think of our aircraft as a vessel that has, over the past decade, bridged a geographical divide between our archipelagos that were first connected by brave voyagers who sailed their waʻa (canoe) across the Pacific Ocean, using only the stars, wind, currents, and ancestral manaʻo (knowledge) to guide their journey,” Nakanelua-Richards added.

Hawaiian has operated nonstop Auckland-Honolulu service since March 2013, though it suspended its flights in March 2020 due to pandemic-related government entry restrictions. In addition to seamless access to Hawaiʻi, kiwi travelers regain access to the carrier’s extensive U.S. domestic network of 16 gateways, including new destinations in Austin, Orlando, and Ontario, California, with the option to enjoy a stopover in the Hawaiian Islands in either direction.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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