Connecting Flight

Full Circle

By Mark Dunkerley, Chief Executive Officer, Hawaiian Airlines

We occasionally use this column to let Hana Hou! readers know we have a new, far-off and exotic destination planned. Not so this time: Our latest route announcement is the resumption of flights on one of our shortest legs, a mere eighty-four miles between Honolulu and Kapalua Airport on Maui’s western tip.

The airport lies on a small strip of land surrounded by pineapple fields, just mauka (uphill) of Kahana Beach and roughly seven miles north of Lahaina. It is an unusual and arresting setting for an airport, framed as it is between turquoise water and the dramatic, verdant peaks of the West Maui mountains.

Kapalua Airport also serves as an artifact of our company’s culture and history. Hawaiian Airlines built the airport in 1987 to serve residents and visitors to the burgeoning Kā‘anapali coast resort area, the development of which had not long before shut down a nearby airstrip. Being just three thousand feet long, the runway at the new airport was suitable only for turboprop aircraft like Hawaiian’s de Havilland Dash 7s, which could carry fifty passengers at a time to and from Kapalua. In the early 1990s, one of the financial storms that had periodically beset Hawaiian Airlines forced the cessation of flights to the airport and the sale of the Dash 7 fleet. The airport itself was taken over by the State of Hawai‘i and the West Maui experiment largely came to an end. Residents and visitors alike have since that time had to reacquaint themselves with the hour-long drive from the island’s main airport in Kahului.

But that’s about to change. Readers of Hana Hou! will know that a couple of years ago, Hawaiian purchased ATR-42 turboprop aircraft allowing our partner, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, to resume services to the smaller airports and communities in the Islands. It’s taken a while for the Kapalua Airport to be made suitable for a resumption of service by such aircraft but this day is at last on the horizon. We are currently awaiting final Federal Aviation Administration clearance, which we hope will see a first flight well before the Christmas rush. The airport’s three-letter designator code—JHM—acknowledges the man who deserved credit for its existence, John H. Magoon. This kama‘āina visionary bought Hawaiian
Airlines in 1963 and ran it for twenty-six years, first as CEO and later as chairman, before he sold it in 1989. “Jack” Magoon was responsible for many of the company’s developments—some successful, some less so, but all impactful. He introduced the DC-9 to Hawaiian’s fleet and with it, jet service among the Islands. He presided over notable achievements such as the inauguration of flights to the US West Coast in 1985 (first to Los Angeles and then to Seattle and San Francisco) and the expansion into charter and cargo operations. To this day his legacy can be seen in our company in all sorts of ways (though happily, Jack’s proclivity for the seersucker suit is not among them). Jack Magoon died in 2003 at the age of 87 and remains, along with our founder Stanley Kennedy, one of the two defining leaders of Hawaiian Airlines.

From Stan Kennedy to Jack Magoon to the present age, Hawaiian has always looked for ways to innovate and to enhance the travel options for Island residents and visitors alike. Our new flights on one of our shortest routes keep this legacy alive.

From our ‘ohana to yours, enjoy your flight and mahalo for your business.