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Hawaiian Air celebrates 83 years as flagship carrier

Hawaiian Airlines celebrate its 83rd anniversary today.  The airline— which has served Pago Pago for many years now— has grown from a small inter island carrier within Hawaii to a major airline serving several cities in the U.S. as well as destinations in the South Pacific and Asia.

The Honolulu-based carrier first started operating between Honolulu and Pago Pago in the mid 1980s under a charter for the now defunct “Lavalava Samoa” airline and a few months later became a scheduled carrier serving not only American Samoa but Tonga—which was later taken off the airline’s schedule of service.

In marking the airline’s anniversary, company president and CEO Mark Dunkerley said Hawaiian takes great pride in being Hawai’i’s airline and “the distinguished place our company holds in aviation history is a tribute to our hard-working employees and loyal customers.”

“After 83 years, Hawaiian is becoming a global carrier, and one that remains comprehensively focused on Hawai‘i,” he said in a news release. “As we continue building on this legacy of service to our islands, we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have made this milestone possible.”

The airline began service on Nov. 11, 1929 under the name Inter-Island Airways— which was later renamed Hawaiian Airlines in 1941. The first commercial flight was between Honolulu and Hilo using a Sikorsky S-38 amphibian biplane, one of only two in the new fleet, and was filled to capacity that day with eight passengers and two crew-members.

Today, Hawaiian is the largest it has ever been, with more flights to more destinations, more aircraft and more employees than at any other time in its history, the airline said in the news release. The company now has a workforce of 4,816.

Dunkerley said the company’s long term plan is focused on expansion into markets that have the greatest potential for growth in visits to Hawai‘i. Next year, the airline will launch daily service between Honolulu and New Zealand - which Hawaiian once served with a stop in Pago Pago.