Video Vault: The first nonstop flight from Phoenix to Hawaii on America West

November 16, 1989 -- It was a joyful and somewhat controversial inaugural launch of a non-stop flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Honolulu.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 7:41 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:16 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It was a joyful and somewhat controversial inaugural launch of the first non-stop flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 16, 1989. Phoenix-based America West had acquired 3 Boeing 747 jets with high hopes of opening up international routes in the Pacific rim through Hawaii.

But that never materialized.

In three short years, the Gulf War and a financially strained America West would be forced to sell their three prized Boeing 747′s, and Phoenix travelers would lose their direct connection to paradise.

It would take more than nine years for a direct route to return to Phoenix. In 2002, Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines announced it would start daily non-stop service from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Honolulu.

Other airlines took note of Hawaiian’s success, and in 2005 U.S. Airways (formerly known as America West) announced it would begin non-stop service to Honolulu and Maui. Additional island destinations were also added a year later. In 2013, U.S. Airways merged with American Airlines, which continues to fly direct flights from Phoenix to several Hawaiian islands daily.

As the population boom showed no signs of slowing down, neither did the demand for direct flights to paradise. In 2021, Southwest Airlines announced it would begin non-stop service to several Hawaiian destinations for the first time in its history. Phoenix was one of the first launch cities for the airline’s new service.

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