Hawaiian Airlines launches Brisbane route - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian Airlines launches Brisbane route

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaiian Airlines serves two cities in Australia after launching its first commercial flight to Brisbane from Honolulu International Airport, with Hawaiian blessings at the gate and smiling airline workers posing for photos on the tarmac.

Hawaiian flies full much of the time on its daily service to Sydney, Australia's largest city, which is also served by Qantas Airways and Jetstar. There is no other Hawaii service to Brisbane, capital of Queensland and gateway to both the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback.

"This is a big deal for Hawaii," said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz at the gate ceremony, and to HawaiiNewsNow he said, "This advances our goal of making Hawaii a gathering place for the entire Pacific Rim."

The Hawaii Tourism Authority estimates the economic boost from three weekly flights to Brisbane as $79 million in annual visitor spending and almost $9 million more in state tax revenue. Australian visitors tend to take longer vacations and spend freely. The Australian dollar is strong. On Tuesday it took 96 cents, Australian, to buy one dollar, American.

"Our current service to Australia has done very well," said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer of Hawaiian. "We're pursuing a policy of serving any market that a lot of Hawaii visitors come from, and this focus enables us to serve markets that other American carriers don't."

Brisbane is Australia's third largest city – more than 2 million people live within an hour's drive of the airport, about double the population of Hawaii. It lies at the center of a coastal area that includes five resort properties managed by Honolulu-based Outrigger Enterprises.

No other U.S. airline flies to Brisbane from anywhere. The same is true of Auckland, New Zealand, which on March 13 will become Hawaiian's next new route. Hawaiian is scheduled to acquire five more Airbus jetliners next year, and even after phasing out some older Boeing jets it will have a net fleet increase that will allow further expansion.

The Boeing 767-300ER jet used for Tuesday's inaugural flight had an Oakland Raiders emblem painted on the side, and airline officials confirmed it was the same aircraft used to fly the Raiders to their away games under a charter contract.

Also painted on the aircraft were two pictures of the Southern Cross, a tri-engine Fokker monoplane that Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm flew from Kauai to Fiji to Brisbane in 1928, an event that made headlines around the world. The predecessor of Hawaiian Airlines was founded the following year.