Hawaiian Airlines flew the inaugural flight between the Pacific island and the Polynesian archipelago of the Cook Islands.
The Honolulu Rarotonga service was operated by an Airbus A321neo aircraft. The route’e opening comes 30 years after Hawaiian first operated it between 1987 and 1993.
“We’re so thrilled to begin this service, which greatly expands travel opportunities between the Cook Islands and the 15 continental US cities we serve with convenient one-stop connections in Honolulu,” said Lokesh Amaranayaka, vice president of airport operations at Hawaiian Airlines.
“This is the beginning of a prosperous partnership between Hawaiian Airlines and the Cook Islands that we hope will continue to strengthen for many years to come.”
Flight HA495 will depart Honolulu at 4pm on Saturdays and arrives in Rarotonga at 10:25pm the same day. The return flight, HA496, departs Rarotonga at 11:35pm on Sundays with a 5:50am Monday arrival in Honolulu.
Honorable Robert Tapaitau, deputy prime minister of the Cook Islands, said: “The Cook Islands and Hawaiʻi have a long-standing connection deeply rooted in shared Polynesian heritage, and this route serves as a gateway to world travelers seeking pristine beaches, rich cultural experiences and a touch of paradise.
“To Hawaiian Airlines, I express my heartfelt gratitude for their commitment to connecting our nations. Through this partnership, we embark on a journey of shared growth, mutual prosperity and strengthening ties.”
Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, Hawaiian Airlines’ director of community and cultural relations, said: “At Hawaiian Airlines, we strive to demonstrate what it means to be of Hawai‘i in everything we do. One of the ways we do this is by intentionally and meaningfully connecting with the host culture of the places we serve.
“Our time in Rarotonga has been brief but incredibly rich with fellowship, friendship and the beginning of many things to come. We thank the Cook Islands for their hospitality, for graciously welcoming us into their home, and for the weaving of our two cultures throughout such a memorable inaugural.”