Starting with just two eight-seater planes in 1929, Hawaiian Airlines has grown to serve more than 145 million passengers and is the largest provider of service to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland. With tourism such an integral part of the state’s economy, there is no better pick to represent the Aloha State in the Real America Index than Hawaiian Holdings (NASDAQ:HA).
Hawaiian Airlines’ mainstay is its routes from 10 gateway cities in the U.S. to Hawaii, but it also flies from Hawaii to South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa and Tahiti. On June 10, 2012, the company announced it will be offering daily nonstop service from Honolulu to New York City. This new destination is the second for the year. Service to Fukuoka, Japan, began in April. But that’s not that all for 2012 — flights to Sapporo, Japan, and Brisbane, Australia, are expected to launch in November.
Carrying about 8 million passengers a year on a fleet of 40 jet aircraft, HA operates about 212 flights daily.
Since tourism is the lifeblood of Hawaii, the airline’s fortunes tend to rise and fall with the health of Hawaii’s economy, as well as the level of discretionary spending among both American and Japanese travelers. Like other airlines, it has been hit hard by rising fuel costs.
Hawaiian Airlines is building its Asia route network, recently adding routes from Honolulu to Seoul, South Korea and Osaka, Japan. Of its fleet of 40, Hawaiian primarily operates Boeing 767 and Boeing 717 jet aircraft but added a fourth Airbus A330-200 to its fleet this year and plans to add as many as 20 Airbus planes by the end of the decade.
While it’s not an apples to apples comparison, it’s safe to say that the economy is looking up if more flights are being booked on Hawaiian Airlines for Maui vacations. Similarly, if fewer folks are budgeting a trip to Hawaii, it could be a sign that consumer confidence is on the wane.
It would be hard to find a better representative in the Real America Index for Hawaii’s economy and American consumer habits than Hawaiian Air.
Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.
As of this writing, Vicki Passmore did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.