Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Hawaiian fine-tunes NZ link

Airline says service doing well and it is tweaking connections to US west coast.

Hawaiian began its New Zealand service 18 months ago and says it is pleased with the results.
Hawaiian began its New Zealand service 18 months ago and says it is pleased with the results.

Hawaiian Airlines says its service to Auckland is performing well but it will fine tune its schedule and has no immediate plans to increase frequency.

It also said it was happy to help out competitor Air New Zealand when mechanical problems led to passengers being stranded for several days in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian airline began flying to New Zealand just on 18 months ago and its senior vice-president of marketing, Avi Mannis, said there were encouraging results, especially with passengers flying on to the United States mainland.

"Every new route has a learning curve and takes a while to develop but we have been very pleased with the growth of traffic between New Zealand and Hawaii," he said during a visit to Auckland.

During the past few years the airline has invested heavily in its long-haul network, rapidly expanding the number of Asia-Pacific destinations, but is stemming recent losses.

All routes had unique challenges, he said. "They're like children, you love them all equally and each has their own problems. We're very encouraged by the results out of New Zealand, we're seeing very good progress."

The airline's flight schedules will be changed over the coming summer.

Mannis said he could not disclose financial details of how the three return flights a week route was performing. However, analysis of its second quarter result by the CAPA Centre for Aviation showed there were signs the airline was turning around its international routes.

While revenues on long-haul flights to Asia and Australia fell 1.7 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year, it was a marked improvement from the first quarter when passenger unit revenues on those routes fell 7 per cent.

"Hawaiian Airlines believes its long-haul international network could turn a corner in 2H2014 to become revenue positive on a unit level, a major accomplishment for geographies that have recorded negative results for the past year," CAPA said. Mannis said the airline would make minor adjustments over summer to provide better connections to some US west coast destinations, among 11 on the mainland.

These multiple destinations made New Zealand a more complex market to sell to compared to the Japanese who generally flew only to Hawaii.

Mannis said Air New Zealand responded to Hawaiian's entry into the market by putting on more capacity, changing its scheduling and some fare cutting.

'They've made the type of changes that every competitor would.

"We've found that in other markets and we often have to compete with the national flag carrier," he said.

However, his airline was happy to help when Air New Zealand had problems with a Boeing 767 and passengers were stranded in Hawaii last month. About half the 227 passengers were rebooked to fly home on a Hawaiian Airlines flight.

"Every airline in its lifetime has mechanical issues, the things that most test customer service. The first thing that happens, competitor or not is to call them up and ask how we can help.

"It's one of the things that is wonderful about our industry," said Mannis.

Revenue breakdown
North America 50%
International 26%

- NZ Herald

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