Deregulation in the USA caused a whirlwind of changes in the industry when it enabled pretty much anyone to fly anywhere they liked. For most airlines this led to a lot of red ink and their collapse. Long-haul routes from the mainland to Hawaii or Hawaii to elsewhere in the Pacific had already been super competitive since the early 70s but that didn't stop three airlines from trying to break into the market all using McDonnell Douglas DC-10s. Here's their stories...
Aloha Pacific was a subsidiary setup by the popular and successful Aloha Airlines of Hawaii. Unlike most airlines which setup mainland to Hawaii domestic services Aloha pacific wanted to utilise Hawaii as a springboard into the Pacific. A similar program was attempted by their rival Hawaiian Airlines with more success and again later by America West with about the same level fo success as Aloha Pacific! On May 28, 1984 Aloha started operations with a single DC-10 operating as Aloha Pacific on the Honolulu-Guam-Taipei route. The service however survived only 6 months, until January 12. It was simply unable to compete effectively against Continental Airlines' Micronesia division and couldn't acquire further international route authorities. It didn't put Aloha off international service altogether as in February 1986 they started ETOPs flights with 737s initially to Kiribati but later also to American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Midway and the Marshall Islands. Services to the mainland USA however had to wait until 2000 and more suitaby sized 737-700s.
The aircraft Aloha Pacific used was registered N801AL. She had originally been PH-DTI with KLM, delivered in June 1974 and leased to Phillipines. She arrived at aloha on May 1, 1984. She was sold to SAS as OY-KDB in March 85 and after five years joined World Airways as N109WA in April 1990. She was leased to Garuda and then Malaysian as 9M-MAZ followed briefly by LOT in 1995. Returned to World in 1996 she was sold to Ghana Airways in March 2000 as 9G-ANC but was impounded at Rome in mid 2003 due to the airline’s debts and has not flown since.
Two other airlines also used DC-10s to Hawaii those both of these were trying to break into the West Coast to Hawaii traffic and both were connected by the same founder Michael J Hartley. His first airline was named The Hawaii Express and actually began operations August 20, 1982 using a Boeing 747-143 registered N355AS. This aircraft was named 'Jason Everest' but had previously been Alitalia's first 747 I-DEMA named 'Neil Armstrong'. Most of the pilots came from recently bankrupt Braniff. The airline's colour scheme was an attractive and lively combination of tropical colours including a mango coloured tail. Introductory fares between Los Angeles and Honolulu were only $89! When the airline acquired a pair of ex-Western DC-10-10s in April 1983 they added a big white pineapple to the tail to complete the look. The DC-10s were N904WA and N905WA but there service was short as The Hawaii Express folded in December 1983.
Mr Hartley was however undaunted and organised a new airline known more simply as Air Hawaii. He managed to keep hold of both the DC-10s from his previous venture and operations advertised as "High Class, Low Fares" began on November 22, 1985. Services predictably connected Honolulu to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but despite offering connections at either end (with Mid-Pacific and PSA respectively) and operating during the busy tourist season the airline survived for only three months before shutting down on February 19, 1986.
Needless to say grandiose plans to service Tokyo and Nagoya were not successful before the airline ceased operations leaving the field wide open for America West to give it a go with predictably disastrous results. Plans to restart the airline mercifully were unsuccessful and its AOC and assets were sold off. Both the Dc-10s found there way to American Airlines, although N905WA served a short lease to Air Panama International first and didn't get to AA until October 1986.
DC-10 operations to Hawaii weren't always this unsuccessful with both Continental and Western utilising the type to Honolulu for several years. Hawaiian Airlines itself would later also use DC-10s as part of its post bankruptcy American Airlines backed reorganisation.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: