Hawaiian Airlines Announces New Service to Cook Islands

Hawaiian Airlines Announces New Service to Cook Islands

DALLAS — Hawaiian Airlines (HA) has announced a new service between Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Rarotonga International Airport (RAR).

The service will start on May 20, 2023, and will operate weekly. This will allow travelers to have a one-stop connection from Hawiann’s 15 destinations in the Mainland United States to the Cook Islands. HA previously served the Cook Islands from 1987 until 1993.

The new flight will add to the airline’s already large network in the Pacific. HA already flies to Pago Pago International Airport (PPG) in American Samoa, Faa’a International Airport (PPT) in French Polynesia, Auckland (AKL) in New Zealand, and Sydney (SYD) in Australia. 

Air New Zealand (AZ) previously served the RAR from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) once a week before the pandemic using a Boeing 777-300. This was a Fifth Freedom Flight, allowing passengers to fly from AKL to LAX via RAR.

Rarotonga Airport is served by AZ and Jetstar (JQ), which fly to Auckland, and Air Tahiti Nui (TN) flies nonstop to Papeete. Also, Air Rarotonga flies to neighboring islands using its fleet of five regional aircraft. HA’s route will be Rarotonga’s only route to the United States.

Hawaiian Airlines flight HA495 will depart HNL on Saturdays at 4:00 PM and arrive at RAR at 10:25 PM, the same day. The return flight, HA496, will depart RAR at 11:35 PM on Sundays and arrive at 5:50 AM on Mondays. The schedule has the aircraft staying in RAR for a 25-hour layover, giving the crew time to rest before operating the return flight. 

The service will be operated by one of the carrier’s Airbus A321neo aircraft. The aircraft has 189 seats, with 16 seats in the premium cabin, 45 seats in premium economy, and 128 seats in economy. The aircraft features in-flight streaming, USB outlets at every seat, and large overhead compartments.

Hawaiian Airlines N209HA Airbus A321Neo. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways

Comments from the Cook Island, Hawaiian Airlines Officials

Mark Brown, the Cook Islands Prime Minister, commented, “As a 93-year-old destination airline committed to sustainability, Hawaiian Airlines is a perfect partner for the Cook Islands… We welcome this timely announcement from Hawaiian Airlines as we look to rebuild our tourism industry and strengthen access to our northern hemisphere markets.”

The minister added, “Inbound tourism is a key economic driver for our nation, and to reach our potential we need access from the larger international markets. Hawaiian’s Honolulu-Rarotonga service connects us to Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest, and many other large U.S. Mainland cities.”

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram commented, “We are delighted to grow our South Pacific network by offering our guests access to the Cook Islands, an archipelago that shares Hawai’i’s Polynesian roots and natural beauty… This service greatly expands travel opportunities between the Cook Islands and the United States, thanks to our well-timed connections and robust network, including service between Hawai’i and eight California cities.”

Featured image: Hawaiian Airlines N208HA Airbus A321Neo. Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways

Joshua Kupietzky has a passion for aviation and deep expertise in the aviation industry. He’s been enamored with the facts and figures of the airline industry, and the details of the make and model of commercial aircraft for as long as he can remember. Based in Chicago, US. Follow him on Instagram @jbkaviation

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