New Hawaiian Airlines service to Utah officially takes off

May 16, 2024, 9:04 PM

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: The Hawaiian Airlines logo is displayed at a check-in area a...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: The Hawaiian Airlines logo is displayed at a check-in area at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on December 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Alaska Airlines has announced it plans to purchase rival Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9 billion deal which must be approved by federal regulators. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lokesh Amaranayaka says he knows that the Hawaiian Islands “have a special place” in many Utahns’ hearts.

The Beehive State is home to about 50,000 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders, which — according to the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute — is the fifth-highest total in the U.S. It’s also a popular vacation destination.

“These communities are so closely linked together,” said Amaranayaka, vice president of airport operations for Hawaiian Airlines.

The connection between Utah and Hawaii is now even closer.

Hawaiian Airlines’ service to Salt Lake City officially took off on Thursday, as the airline began service to its 16th gateway city. The company gathered at Salt Lake City International Airport Thursday morning for a ceremony to launch its new service.

The celebration featured traditional Hawaiian music, dancing and a blessing ceremony before passengers boarded the first flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu.

“We start with gratitude, taking this opportunity to pause and think about this really important day in the history of our airline and being able to be a part of a new community,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of community and cultural relations for Hawaiian Airlines.

The airline announced it would begin service to Utah for the first time in its 95-year history back in November. It plans to offer daily nonstop service between the two state capitals.

SLC airport says fix ‘temporary’ after tunnel floods between concourses

Shane Andreasen, director of real estate and commercial development for the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, said he was “looking forward to this day” since that announcement. While Thursday was officially months in the making, he points out that it took a brand new airport to welcome Hawaiian Airlines or any other airline operating out of the old terminal that closed in 2020.

The old airport reached full capacity, so it didn’t have the gates, ticket counters or other infrastructure needed to bring in more airlines or services.

Airline officials pointed out that its official launch date seemed fitting because it landed in the middle of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To that end, Alyn Toalepai, president of the Utah Pacific Islander Chamber, said he believes the new airline service may serve as a “grand opportunity” for members of Utah’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community to revisit where their ancestors traveled from.

“It’s an opportunity for our students, our families, to be able to voyage back and learn from the past,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines’ celebrations in Utah aren’t over just yet. The airline will hold an event at City Creek Center from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday to celebrate its new Utah service and its 31 Days of Lei campaign. The free event will feature music, food, hula, an orchid hair-pinning station, as well as flower lei and item giveaways.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Andrew Adams

Sandy crews mow, weed to reduce potential fire hazards around the city

Crews worked to clear potential fire hazards by leveling fields within the city's limits on Wednesday.

8 hours ago

Police arresting the suspect in a double homicide in St. George on June 19, 2024....

Mary Culbertson

Suspected shooter admits to killing both her parents in Washington County home after arrest, police say

After an hourslong search for a suspected shooter, police took the shooter into custody where she confessed to killing her parents.

9 hours ago

Willie Mays was honored by the Salt Lake Bees on Juneteenth after his death Tuesday. (KSL TV)...

Brian Carlson

Salt Lake Bees remember Hall of Famer Willie Mays on Juneteenth

The Salt Lake Bees wore throwback jerseys of an all-African American team from 1906 in honor of player Willie Mays and Juneteenth.

11 hours ago

Protestors gather outside the House chambers during a legislative special session at the Utah State...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Utah lawmakers vote to block federal protections for LGBTQ+ students under Title IX

Utah lawmakers convened in a special session on Juneteenth to declare the state's intent not to follow a federal rule providing anti-discrimination protections to transgender youth.

11 hours ago

Southbound traffic on I-215 being diverted northbound because of a box truck fire....

Michael Houck

I-215 southbound traffic halted after box truck fire

Southbound traffic on I-215 near 4700 South is being diverted northbound because of a box truck that caught fire Wednesday afternoon.

12 hours ago

Balloons at a Juneteenth celebration at Weber State University. (KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

‘I think people get scared because it’s talking about slavery’: Weber State students, staff pause to celebrate and honor Juneteenth

Weber State University students and staff gathered on campus to reflect and celebrate Juneteenth.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

New Hawaiian Airlines service to Utah officially takes off