The Hawaii Express

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The Hawaii Express' Boeing 747

The Hawaii Express (IATA: LPICAO: HEA) was a scheduled passenger airline that operated flights between Los Angeles, California (LAX) and Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL). It was nicknamed "The Big Pineapple" and started service with one Boeing 747 aircraft, featuring a unique and detailed paint job with a mango-colored tail and a rainbow-colored stripe down the side.

Founded by Michael Hartley, who would later go on to found Air Hawaii and CheapTickets, the airline began flights on August 20, 1982. The Vice-President of Operations was William Traver. Since the airline wanted to hire personnel with airline experience, the employment ad which ran in the airlines section of Los Angeles Times newspaper classified ads in the spring of 1982 listed previous 747 qualification as a requirement. The airline's original crew members included fifteen pilots, most of whom were from the recently bankrupted Braniff Airlines based in Dallas, Texas, while the original fifty flight attendants were furloughed from various major airlines in the United States. Four of those fifty flight attendants served as permanent pursers/First Flight Attendants. All crew members were based at Los Angeles International Airport with maintenance and gate facilities provided by TWA.

Hawaii Express acquired two McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft in May 1983 to replace the 747, although all three aircraft were operated simultaneously for a while. The Hawaii Express suspended flights on December 20 of that year and filed for bankruptcy the following day.


  • Norwood, Tom W. (1996). Deregulation Knockouts, Round One. Sandpoint, Idaho: Airways International. p. 73. ISBN 0965399303. OCLC 37263082.
  • Wynbrandt, James (2004). "Chapter 1: The Journey Begins". Flying High. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-65544-9. OCLC 54461996.

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