Hawaiian Airlines to Begin Service to the Cook Islands

A Hawaiian Airlines jet over mountains.
Photo Credit: Hawaiian Airlines

LONDON – The Hawaii based carrier Hawaii Airlines has announced its return to the Cook Islands, with new flights between Honolulu (HNL) and Rarotonga (RAR) starting May 20 next year.

The announcement

After first serving the Cook Islands from 1987 through 1993, Hawaiian Airlines is announcing its return, with new flights from Honolulu to Rarotonga from May 20, 2023.

The service starts just in time for the U.S. summer travel season, making sure to provide travelers from Hawaiian’s 15 United States mainland gateway cities, a convenient one-stop connection to the Cook Islands.

The tickets go out for sale on December 7, under the flight numbers HA495 and HA496.

Management statements

Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO offered the following on the new route announcement: “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.”

The new route has also caught the attention of the Cook Islands’ Prime Minister, Mark Brown, who 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,” he 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.”

Schedule and offerings

With the new route comes also the schedule, and HA495 being the outbound flight, is set to depart Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) at 4p.m. on Saturdays, and arrive in Rarotonga (RAR) at 10.25p.m. the same day.

As for the return flight, HA496 is set to depart back to Honolulu at 11.35p.m. on Sundays, landing back at the Honolulu airport (HNL) at 5.50a.m. on Monday morning.

Aircraft type and passenger comfort wise, the flights will be operated by Hawaiian’s Airbus A321neo aircraft, which features 16 luxurious leather recliner seats in the Premium cabin, 45 Extra Comfort Premium Economy Seats, followed by 128 regular economy seats.

Apart from the cabin, the Airbus A321neo will also assure the passengers a fuel efficient and comfortable flight, as the A321neo also provides lower noise, making the cabin notably more quiet.

The A321neo is the second biggest aircraft type in the Hawaiian Airlines fleet, coming right under their A330-200 aircraft. Per today, data from Planespotters.net show Hawaiian Airlines having 17 A321neos in their fleet.


With Hawaiian Airlines returning to the Cook Islands, it marks the end of a 30-year hiatus given that the company flew through 1993, and since then ended operations for the destination.

However, the Cook Islands is a dream vacation spot for many travelers, and Hawiian launching this route again, could most definitely get mainland customers there way easier than it would likely be elsewhere, hence why there is hope for this service to do well.

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