Mark Dunkerley is credited with turning a struggling local carrier into a global industry leader.
Now, after 15 years at the helm of Hawaiian Airlines, he's saying goodbye.
Hawaiian Airlines announced Thursday Dunkerley's retirement as president and CEO.
Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, will take his place effective March 1, 2018.
"This has been a heart-wrenching decision," said Dunkerley, who joined Hawaiian in December 2002. "I am so proud to be associated with this company and our employees. Hawaiian Airlines is truly in a class of its own, distinguished by all the employees I am honored to call my colleagues. At the same time, I am excited by the new opportunities ahead of me and I am confident that Peter Ingram and the team will lead the company to further success."
Dunkerley guided Hawaiian Airlines out of a possible bankruptcy and expanded flights from Asia to all over the world.
When you talk to him, he takes no credit for it. Instead, he says his legacy is giving his employees the confidence to be the best.
KHON2 asked Dunkerley, "What is your recipe for success?
"I'm not sure i have a single recipe for success, other than to spend time encouraging employees to do their best," he replied. "That's why we are the world's most punctual airline."
Since 2002, Hawaiian has doubled the number of passengers flown annually to 11 million. Even the number of employees doubled to 6,600.
"We've quadrupled in size. We've brought more visitors to our island than any other airline in terms of the growth over these past years," Dunkerley said.
Dunkerley recalls how the 2008 recession played a role in Hawaiian's expansion.
"That's when we understood that we turned the corner as a company," he said. "That's when we understood that we had the ability to be the best. That's when we understood the need to move into Asia."
Looking at the company now, Dunkerley says he could not be any more proud, and the future of commercial travel will only get better.
"The very large airlines have allowed to get very, very big. Small airlines like us -- we are 1/20 the size of our competitors -- become frankly much more valuable because we are the ones that ultimately keep the big guys honest," he said.
"What would you like to say to your employees to Hawaii as you make your exit?" KHON2 asked.
"What I like to say is mahalo. My time here at this company has been the highlight of my life," Dunkerley said. "I've lived in Hawaii longer than I lived in any community, and I intend to keep that going."
His replacement, Ingram, joined Hawaiian as chief financial officer in December 2005, six months after its emergence from Chapter 11 Reorganization. In 2011, Ingram became chief commercial officer, overseeing marketing and sales, revenue management and network planning, loyalty programs and cargo during a period of rapid revenue growth for Hawaiian.
"I am humbled by the board's confidence in me and excited by the opportunity to lead an incredible team as Hawaiian's CEO," said Ingram. "Mark has been an inspirational leader for our company and mentor to me and many others and I will be proud to continue pursuing the strategy for growth and success that we have been following for the last several years."