Living on the most isolated island chain on the planet, separated by nearly 2,400 miles from the nearest dry land, Hawaiians have a special relationship with air cargo. “Being an island state, we do have to rely on the mainland,” said Brad Matheny, the director of operations for Hawaiian Airlines Cargo. Indeed, the 1.4 million people in the archipelago depend on airfreight for much of what cannot be produced or grown on the islands.
With population growth in the Hawaiian Islands projected to grow steadily through 2040, demand will also expand for inter-island cargo shipments, prompting Hawaiian Airlines Cargo to look inward, as well as outward. Last month, the airline added three ATR 72 turboprop freighters to its fleet in order to expand its inter-island cargo delivery capacity. Airline Contract Maintenance & Equipment will own the planes, and Empire Airlines, which already operates several ATR passenger aircraft for Hawaiian, will operate the service.
Matheny said 80 percent of inter-island cargo traffic consists of perishables, whether from the mainland United States, the other islands in the state or from international connections. The lion’s share of the perishables goes to local supermarkets, but some also goes to the large, luxury hotels and resorts of the islands. That said, imports from abroad could be anything, given the state’s isolation, Matheny said. Hawaii imports electronics from Asia and “whatever the need is” from everywhere else.
The ATR 72 can carry about 8.2 tonnes of cargo and accommodate five 88 x 108-inch pallets or up to seven LD3 containers, as well as skidded cargo. “This new business will help fortify our belly market,” said Matheny, adding that express services for smaller shipments will still be available on Hawaiian’s 160 daily short-haul flights throughout the day, using belly space on 717 aircraft.
The new inter-island freighter service will begin in the first half of 2016, with flights between Honolulu International Airport and Kona, Kahului, Lihu’e and Hilo. Matheny said the new aircraft and new service will allow Hawaiian to make seamless onward connections to the carrier’s many destinations in the continental U.S., as well as its international destinations. Hawaiian currently flies to New York, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Phoenix and Las Vegas in the U.S., and to Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China, America Samoa, and Tahiti.
Hawaiian is just beginning to offer cargo service to Asia, so the carrier doesn’t have a firm grasp on what types of cargo will be carried to foreign markets, but Matheny said that for now the carrier is focusing on supporting Hawaii’s farmers and businesses.
The inter-island flights will be branded ‘Ohana (meaning “family” in Hawaiian), an extension of the current ‘Ohana interisland passenger flights. The livery of the ATR 72 aircraft will feature the same kapa patterns created by Hilo-based artist Sig Zane and his son Kuha‘o for the ‘Ohana passenger operation. No schedules have been set yet, but the new inter-island flights will connect with the international and domestic routes Hawaiian operates.
“This [service] is something we’ve been looking at because our customers have been asking about skidded freight. We’re really excited about boosting the state economy and local farmers,” Matheny said. And, as an added incentive, Customers will also be able to accumulate double miles for each mile of cargo shipped. These miles can then be converted for passenger travel.Like This Post