Hawaiian Airlines CEO to retire in March, replacement named

Markets Associated Press

Hawaiian Airlines said Thursday that longtime CEO Mark Dunkerley will retire in March and be replaced by the airline's chief commercial officer, Peter Ingram.

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Ingram, 51, joined Hawaiian as chief financial officer in December 2005, six months after the airline emerged from bankruptcy reorganization. Since 2011, he has overseen marketing and sales, network planning and other functions.

Among Ingram's challenges will be new competition. Southwest Airlines, the biggest domestic carrier, plans to begin flying from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii in late 2018 or early 2019, and it is considering adding flights between islands, a market dominated by Hawaiian.

Dunkerley, 54, joined Hawaiian in late 2002 and has been CEO since 2005 — among the longest-tenured CEOs in the airline industry. He had been an executive at British Airways and an aviation consultant before that.

When Dunkerley arrived, Hawaiian depended almost entirely on traffic from the U.S. mainland and among Hawaii's islands. As CEO, he tried to grab a bigger share of Asian tourists to Hawaii by adding flights from new destinations in Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. International travel now accounts for about one-fourth of the airline's revenue.

Like other airlines, Hawaiian has benefited recently from strong demand for travel and relatively lower fuel prices. After losing money as recently as 2011, Hawaiian's net income has risen each of the last three years. It was $235 million in 2016, and analysts expect close to $300 million this year, according to a FactSet survey.

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Hawaiian's stock price increased six-fold from the beginning of 2014 through 2016. But it has been one of the worst airline stocks this year, with shares falling 32 percent so far in 2017.

Shares of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. had a banner day Thursday, however, leading a broad rally in airline stocks by jumping $1.77, or 4.8 percent, to close at $38.85. That was before the news of Dunkerley's retirement. They were up 5 cents more in late trading.