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Hawaiian Airlines Inaugural Flight to Long Beach, California

Wayne Yoshioka

Hawaiian Airlines launched a new service to the West Coast on the mainland. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Passengers wait to board the non-stop flight to Long Beach

“We’d like to welcome you to the holding area for Hawaiian Airlines Flight 70, bound for Long Beach, California”

The inaugural non-stop flight represents the first new mainland destination for the locally based carrier since New York City in 2012 and the first West Coast stop since Oakland more than a decade ago.  Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO, Peter Ingram, says Long Beach will provide the airline with more flexibility.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO, Peter Ingram, boards the flight

“This route really epitomizes the value of the A321, it being a 189-seat airplane instead of 278 on our A330s.  It really opens us up to ht some markets that really aren’t just quite big enough to justify the wide body but will be perfectly suited for this aircraft.”

The airline will eventually have 18 new A-321 Neos by 2020. 

A Hawaiian Blessing and hula dancers greeted the passengers at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.  Mark Rivera is from Laupahoehoe on the Big Island.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Mark Rivera is going to his daughter's wedding

“I’m going to Long Beach for my daughter’s wedding.  This one goes right into Long Beach which is closer to Huntington Beach, much closer.”

Mailelani Cox is traveling with her teenage son and daughter.


“We’re flying into Long Beach but we’re going to drive up to Yosemite.  It’s a little ways.  I think it’s about 6 hours, 7 hours,

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Mailelani Cox (center) is flying with her daughter, Taylor and son, Toshi


somewhere around there.  So, we’re gonna take our time to make it up there.  They still want to travel so it’s a good thing, right? (laugh).”




The Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism is projecting an 8.2 percent increase in airline seats this year, with visitor arrivals near the 10 million mark and spending over 18 billion dollars.  Hawai’i Tourism Authority president and CEO George Szigeti says the new Long Beach flight should be a plus for O’ahu.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Hawai'i Tourism Authority president and CEO, George Szigeti

“As Waikiki goes, we all go.  I mean, it’s one of our hub and it’s had some challenges because a lot of airlines are now going direct to all the neighbor islands.  You know, it’s taken away a little bit from Waikiki.  But, Waikiki occupancy is still strong and what I’m encouraged about is the spend is up significantly in Waikiki.”


But, Szigeti says, increased air seats also boosts alternative accommodations, namely, illegal vacation rentals.  House Tourism Committee chair, Representative Richard Onishi, says the state can only do so much.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Representative Richard Onishi

“What we tried to do in the legislature last year – in the House – was to assist the county in their management of the vacation rentals.  The land use issue is a county issue.  So, we’re behind the counties to legislate and to enforce their land use laws.”


Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Ingram says current customer demand is very strong and the Long Beach route will also benefit local travelers.


“I’ve heard a lot of people locally tell me they’re really excited about it because they’ve got opportunities to travel to Los Angeles. And, if you’re taking that family vacation to Disneyland, well, that vacation is closer than ever because you’re gonna cut off about 20 miles.  But if you’ve sat on the 405, South of LAX airport, that 20 miles can be about an hour sitting in the highway.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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