Traditional Hawaiian Ceremony Marks Start of Assembly of Hawaiian Airlines' First Boeing 717-200
The haunting sounds of a chant in the Hawaiian language and a stirring performance of ancient hula filled the Boeing 717 production facility today during a blessing ceremony, marking the official start of final assembly of the first Boeing 717 airplane to be built for Hawaiian Airlines.
The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) began assembly of airplane number 5050 -- the 50th in the 717-200 series -- scheduled to be delivered to Hawaiian in February 2001. In an agreement valued at $430 million, Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (AMEX and PCX:HA) will acquire 13 new Boeing 717s in 2001, with rights to purchase up to seven more.
"Boeing and Hawaiian Airlines are taking a giant step into the future by introducing 21st century aviation technology to the Hawaiian Islands," said Jim Phillips, vice president-general manager of the Long Beach Division of the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group. "The 717s we're assembling here are the best short-range passenger airplanes in the world, and they are perfect for Hawaii."
The Boeing 717 is built specifically for short-range, high frequency airline routes. It makes effective use of the latest technology, resulting in low operating costs. The new twinjet produces the lowest noise and emissions in its class, provides big-jet passenger comfort and offers breakthrough simplicity in design.
"We celebrate this momentous occasion by harking back to the proud traditions of Hawaii's ancient arts of hula and chant," said Paul J. Casey, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Airlines. "At the same time, we look forward to providing Hawaii's residents and its tourism industry with quieter, more comfortable and more reliable airplanes that will set the standard for inter-island service well into the future."
In keeping with a Hawaiian Airlines tradition, a blessing was offered by The Rev. Richard Kamanu, pastor of Kapaa First Hawaiian Church on Kauai. Hawaiian Airlines employee Tony Lenchanko offered a chant in the Hawaiian language. The work, composed especially for the occasion, described the beauty of native Hawaiian birds and the start of a new endeavor.
Adorned in native leaves and ferns, eight dancers from the highly regarded Halau Na Mamo O Pu 'unahulu performed in the ancient, or kahiko tradition of hula. The hula troupe, under the direction of award-winning hula master Sonny Ching, won top honors at this year's Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, Hawaii, and went on to present a critically acclaimed three-hour performance at New York's Carnegie Hall.
Founded as Inter-Island Airways, Hawaiian Airlines launched the first commercial airline service in Hawaii on Nov. 11, 1929, and over the years has relied heavily on DC-3s, DC-9s and DC-10s. From its Honolulu hub, Hawaiian serves the islands of Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai and the Big Island of Hawaii. As the nation's 12th largest carrier, Hawaiian operates a fleet of 14 DC-10s on daily flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Its DC-10 South Pacific service links Honolulu with American Samoa and Tahiti.
Hawaiian Airlines has earned numerous international awards for service. Most recently it was rated third in Travel & Leisure magazine's 2000 rankings of the Top 10 Domestic Airlines.
In Long Beach, where 717s are assembled, Boeing is developing a unique continuously moving line for producing the airplane. The line will improve efficiency and quality, while shortening the time it takes to deliver the twinjet to customers such as Hawaiian Airlines.
Additional information on Hawaiian Airlines, including previously issued company news releases, is available at http://www.hawaiianair.com.