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Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines also entered the new international markets of Australia and New Zealand in 1986 with one-stop services through Pago Pago International Airport. Hawaiian also aggressively grew its international charter business and pursued military transport contracts. This led to a large growth in the company's revenues and caused its inter-island service's share of revenues to shrink to just about a third of the company's total.
During the 1980s, Hawaiian also embarked on the development and construction of Kapalua Airport on west side of Maui. Opened in 1987, the airport was designed with a 3,000-foot runway, which constrained its ability to handle large aircraft. As a result, when the airport first opened, Hawaiian Airlines was the only inter-island carrier with aircraft capable of serving the airport. With its de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 turboprops, Hawaiian had a distinct competitive advantage in the Maui market.
Hawaiian began acquiring Boeing 717 aircraft for operation on the Neighbor Island network in February 2001. On June 4, 2008, the airline announced that it had agreed to lease an additional four 717 airplanes to meet demand due to the shutdown of Aloha Airlines' passenger operations and the closing of ATA Airlines, with deliveries between September and the end of 2008.
Hawaiian Airlines started HawaiianMiles, their frequent-flyer program, in 1983. Miles accumulated in the program allow members to redeem tickets, upgrade service class or obtain free or discounted car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, or other products and services through partners. The most active members, based on the amount and price of travel booked, are designated Pualani Gold (fly 30 Segments or fly 20,000 Flight Miles) and Pualani Platinum (fly 60 Segments or fly 40,000 Flight Miles), with privileges such as separate check-in, Premier Club Lounge access in Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului, and Līhuʻe, priority upgrade and standby processing, or complimentary upgrades. Travel award redemption from the HawaiianMiles program account for 5% of total revenue passengers.
In March 2003, Hawaiian Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in its history. The airline continued its normal operations, and at the time was overdue for $4.5 million worth of payments to the pilots' pension plan. Within the company, it was suggested that the plan be terminated. As of May 2005, Hawaiian Airlines had received court approval of its reorganization plan. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection on June 2, 2005, with reduced operating costs through renegotiated contracts with its union work groups; restructured aircraft leases; and investment from RC Aviation, a unit of San Diego-based Ranch Capital, which bought a majority share in parent company Hawaiian Holdings Inc in 2004.