Hawaiian Airlines launched non-stop service to Taipei, Taiwan early Tuesday morning.
It's the latest addition to its expanding international network and seventh Asian gateway destination.
The departure of HA 807 followed gate side festivities that included Hawaiian music and hula, performance honoring the Taiwanese culture, traditional Hawaiian blessing, and presentation of lei to passengers boarding the inaugural flight.
"The demand for service to Hawaii from the Taiwan market has been growing and we are delighted to respond to the strong interest by delivering our new non-stop service to and from Taipei," Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley said. "The Hawaiian Islands are the ideal midpoint destination, perfectly situated to offer dual-destination trips with easy connections between Taipei and our 11 gateways in the U.S."
Tuesday's inaugural capitalizes on the extension of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program to cover citizens of Taiwan.
Taipei is the capital city and economic center of Taiwan, and the surrounding metropolitan area of Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung is home to nearly seven million people.
As a whole, Taiwan has more than 23 million people and is considered one of the "Four Asian Tiger Economies" with one of the highest Per Capita GDP in Asia.
"The historical and cultural ties between Hawaii and Taiwan continue to be strong as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our sister-state relationship. I congratulate Hawaiian Airlines for capitalizing on Taiwan's entrance into the Visa Waiver Program with new air service that will strengthen our connection with Taiwan," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "This service will create new business opportunities, and allow our friends in Taiwan to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii and our families here to explore the abundant scenic attractions available in Taiwan."
Hawaii hosted nearly 10,000 visitors from Taiwan in 2012, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which expects arrival numbers to grow substantially with Visa restrictions lifted.
"This new Hawaiian Airlines flight fits into our strategy of global market diversification," commented Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. "This new service is critically important as Hawaii strives to become a major hub for that region in Asia."
Hawaiian Airlines will operate three flights a week between Honolulu and Taipei using a 294-seat A330-200 aircraft.
Flight HA 807 departs Honolulu International Airport at 1:55 a.m. every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, crosses the international dateline, and lands at Taipei International Airport at 6:15 a.m. the following day.
The return Flight HA 808 departs Taipei at 8:55 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, crosses the international dateline, and arrives in Honolulu at 1:10 p.m. the same day.
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