HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaiian Airlines' parent company said Tuesday that its net income surged to $7.3 million during the first three months of the year from about $900,000 in the same period a year earlier, as the airline continued its expansion into Asian and U.S. Mainland markets.
CEO Mark Dunkerley told investors in a conference call that results were better than the company expected at the beginning of the year.
"We are ahead of plan in essentially every dimension of growth and financial performance. So long as the current environment of strong demand persists, and so long as the price of fuel does not surprise all of us, we anticipate staying there," Dunkerley said.
Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s operating revenue climbed to $435.5 million during the first quarter from $365.5 million during January-March 2011.
Dunkerley said the airline will continue to diversify its revenue base by expanding into international markets as well as growing its domestic business to maintain its strength there.
In the past 18 months, Hawaiian has started flying to Japan and South Korea and has increased the frequency of its flights to Australia. International routes now account for Hawaiian's second largest source of revenue, moving ahead of interisland routes. Flights between Hawaii and U.S. Mainland still account for the largest share of the company's revenue at nearly 50 percent.
Dunkerley said Hawaiian pulled in 27 percent of its revenue from international flights in the first quarter, up from 9 percent in the third quarter of 2010 before it started flying to Asia.
Prospects for the airline's first flight to the East Coast are looking strong as well.
Hawaiian's new nonstop flight from Honolulu to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is due to start operation in June, is beating internal revenue projections, Dunkerley said.
The CEO only mentioned one area where the airline wasn't doing as well as hoped: the interisland market.
The company's revenue from flying people between the Hawaiian Islands rose 3.5 percent, far short of a 10 percent increase in capacity.
Dunkerley said the airline didn't do a good enough job adapting to the introduction of new Boeing 717 airplanes on its interisland routes and to the launch of a new hub on Maui.
"This is an area that we are looking at, and we will be making further refinements to schedule and fares necessary to improve our short-haul flying results," he said.