HONOLULU — Continued demand for Hawaii vacations was a major contributor in what was a record-breaking 2016 for Hawaiian Airlines.
Last year, the airline had net income of just over $280 million, a $90 million increase from 2015, according to its quarterly report released Tuesday. In the fourth quarter, Hawaiian reported net income of $68.8 million, a $20 million increase from the fourth quarter of 2015.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines president and chief executive officer, called 2016 “a great year.”
“Our business is stronger and we are growing value for our shareholders, giving us great confidence for 2017 and beyond,” he added.
Highlights for the year included carrying a record 11 million passengers and being named the most punctual airline by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Other highlights included launching a daily nonstop service between Narita and Honolulu international airports and a tri-weekly service between Haneda and Kona international airports.
Last year also ended the second phase of a decade-long plan to revitalize the company, Dunkerley said.
“From 2010 to 2014, we added planes, people and destinations,” he said. “During the second phase, which was from 2014 to present, we focused on modest growth. And from 2017 to end of decade, which will be third phase, we will focus on expanding services.”
This year, additional routes from Hawaii to North America will be the main focus, Dunkerley said.
“We have momentum going into 2017, which gives us confidence for a strong year,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer.
The airline industry overall enjoyed a strong 2016.
The International Air Transport Association set its outlook for 2016 airline industry profitability to $35.6 billion. That would be the highest profit generated by the airline industry, IATA reported.
IATA expects the global airline industry to make a net profit in 2017 of nearly $30 billion.
“Airlines continue to deliver strong results,”said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, in a press release.
“Even though conditions in 2017 will be more difficult with rising oil prices, we see the industry earning $29.8 billion,” he said. “That’s a very soft landing and safely in profitable territory.”
He said the industry still faces many risks — political, economic and security among them.
“And controlling costs is still a constant battle in our hyper-competitive industry,” de Juniac said.
Hawaiian Airlines, which employs 137 at the Lihue Airport, has an average of 21 departures a day in Lihue — 17 to Honolulu and four to Maui aboard Boeing 717s. During the summer, Hawaiian Airlines offers daily nonstop flights to Los Angeles, Honolulu and Oakland on Boeing 767s.
In March, Hawaiian Airlines will start a non-stop service between Lihue and Kailua-Kona.
“Demand from our kamaaina and visitors for travel between Hawaii Island and Kauai has been growing steadily over the past few years,” Ingram said. “We are proud to now offer our guests direct access between these islands.”
As of Dec. 31, Hawaiian Airlines had unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $610 million and outstanding debt and capital lease obligations of $557 million.
It achieved a record $50 million in Extra Comfort and Preferred Seat sales in 2016.
“Our hard-working team has done a good job ensuring that the investments we made in our business at the beginning of this decade continue to deliver the returns we anticipated from them,” Dunkerley said.