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A reflection of Hawaii: Hawaiian Airlines CEO exclusive

After bankruptcy a decade ago, Hawaiian Airlines has now become one of the success stories in aviation. In this exclusive interview, PETER INGRAM, President and CEO, explains how the company aims to maintain its success.


Mark Dunkerley did a great job turning around Hawaiian Airlines’ fortunes. How do you plan to continue his good work?

Hawaiian Airlines’ future is much more secure than it was when Mark became CEO 15 years ago and when I joined the company in 2005. Mark and I shared a philosophy that this is a business where we should take calculated commercial risks.

This explains our decision to invest in aircraft and expand our network shortly after the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2005 and right around the time the 2008 global financial crisis hit. Our bet has paid off.

In the first quarter of 2018 we generated more revenue and carried more guests than at any first quarter in our history and we’ve been able to use that financial success to reinforce our balance sheet.


What is it about the company that appeals to you so much?

This airline is unique. The Hawaiian culture and environment inform everything we do. Our employees are part of the local community and so is the airline. We are very proud to contribute to the economic vitality of Hawaii and welcome millions of guests each year to our home.


Your recent order for Dreamliners marks an exciting chapter in the airline’s history.

Choosing the 787 Dreamliner was very much a decision for our long-term future. It combines excellent comfort for our guests with fantastic operational performance.

Many design elements provide a more enjoyable environment for our guests; the extra-large windows, the higher ceilings, larger overhead baggage bins – and the composite airframe which will allow us to pressurise the cabin to the equivalent of a much lower altitude.

Customers of the 787 have said this makes them feel less tired and jetlagged. It is also an ultra-efficient aircraft with low fuel burn, which reduces emissions and allows us to keep fares affordable.



Is there anything else coming up in the pipeline that excites you at Hawaiian?

One of the most important things we’re doing this year is bringing the A321neo into our fleet, primarily to operate between the U.S. West Coast and the Hawaiian Islands.

For our long-haul markets like Australia, New Zealand and Asia, this will free up some of our existing wide-body fleet to add additional frequency to existing routes – or to potentially launch new ones.


For any Aussies who haven’t flown HA yet, what can they expect from your airline?

The contemporary Hawaiian culture is vibrant and very much alive among our employees who genuinely care about our guests. The moment you step onboard you are embraced by Hawaiian culture and hospitality. That authentic Hawaiian experience is what sets us apart.


Why do you think Hawaii remains such a favourite holiday destination?

Our unique culture, our climate and our environment are what make Hawaii the iconic destination it is. There are so many options; from the ‘stop and drop’ lay by the pool or beach vacation, to water and adventure sports, to sophisticated dining and luxury experiences – there is something for everyone.

I think that’s why people fall in love with Hawaii and come back again and again to experience Hawaii’s renowned Aloha Spirit and to explore more of the many aspects of the Hawaiian Islands.


Written by: PETER INGRAM as told to JON UNDERWOOD
Published: 12 June 2018

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