Hawaiian Airlines has announced it will open a new international gateway to New Zealand with new nonstop service between Honolulu and Auckland three days weekly beginning March 13, 2013.
“New Zealanders are avid travelers and we believe the introduction of new nonstop flights with our winning brand of service will be welcomed in meeting pent-up demand for a Hawaii vacation,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “At the same time, our new service will offer Hawaii residents easy access to the natural wonders and Maori culture of New Zealand.”
Hawaiian will be the only U.S. carrier flying into Auckland.
The company’s market research indicates that Hawaii is an underserved market for New Zealand, as tourism figures show there are currently 30% fewer visitor arrivals coming from New Zealand than in 1999 when more nonstop flights were offered between the two destinations. In addition, New Zealand residents made more than one million trips to the South Pacific and Asia in 2011.
Hawaiian’s new service will add more than 40,000 seats annually between Auckland and Hawaii.
“Hawaiian Airlines’ entry into the New Zealand market is more positive news for Hawaii’s tourism economy, with the potential to bring in up to an estimated $50 million in annual visitor expenditures and $5.4 million in tax revenue,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).
According to HTA, the New Zealand market is a strong source of visitors for Hawaii. In 2011, Hawaii received 20,730 arrivals from New Zealand – an increase of 15.4% compared to 2010 – which were responsible for generating $38 million in visitor expenditures. Year-to-date through May 2012, arrivals from New Zealand have increased by 5.1% year-over-year.
Travel officials in New Zealand hailed the new service announcement from Hawaiian.
“This new service will help not only to grow the attractive Hawaiian market across a number of islands, but also will offer fantastic and conveniently-timed connections to a wide range of great city destinations in the mainland United States and New Zealand,” said Glenn Wedlock, Auckland Airport’s general manager aeronautical commercial. “The New Zealand travel industry has been calling for more capacity and better connections on this route for some time, so this announcement will be welcomed with open arms.”
Kevin Bowler, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, greeted the announcement as a significant step in improving visitor arrivals from the United States and strengthening relations between the two countries.
“The United States is a vital market for New Zealand leisure and business travel, and is a key focus for our marketing efforts given the significant potential for growth that exists,” Bowler said. “The timing of this new service is ideal as the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will heighten interest in New Zealand and no doubt whet Americans’ appetite for travel here.”
Hawaiian will operate the Auckland-Honolulu flights using its fleet of wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, seating 264 passengers – 18 in Business Class and 246 in the Main Cabin.
Flight schedules and the start of ticket sales for the new Auckland service will be announced at a later date.