By JAMES WILKINSON
Hawaiian Airlines is set to launch flights from Honolulu to Auckland in March 2013, providing a significant boost to inbound tourism for New Zealand.
When the flights launch on March 14, Hawaiian will become the only United States carrier flying to New Zealand – the first in more than a decade to offer service to Auckland since United Airlines withdrew services from Los Angeles over 10 years ago.
Services will be operated thrice-weekly by a Boeing 767-300 aircraft – seating 264 passengers in a two-class configuration – adding 40,000 seats annually between the two cities.
“New Zealanders are avid travellers 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 Hawaiian’s president and CEO, Mark Dunkerley,
“At the same time, our new service will offer Hawaii residents easy access to the natural wonders and Maori culture of New Zealand.”
The new flights have been welcomed by Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.
“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,” he said. “The ability to connect through Hawaii will provide a critical link for converting those considering travel into actual bookings.
“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,” Bowler said.
Hawaiian also recently announced the launch of flights to Brisbane, which commence on November 27, 2012.