New Boeing 737-300 “stands tall with unselfish pride,” key to company’s growth
By Hilary Reeves
A ceremony to name and “bless” Aloha Air Cargo‘s new Boeing 737-300 freighter took place under cloudy Hawaiian skies, a circumstance all too familiar to those who bear witness to the company’s many successes.
“Honestly, it has always rained. Every time we have an event or blessing,” said Michael Orozco, the company’s director of sales and marketing. “We don’t enjoy getting wet, and at first glance it seems like a bad omen or just plain unfortunate, but in indigenous Hawaiian culture and to Hawaii locals, rain is actually a blessing from the Gods.”
The plane, one of two that will enter into service this year as part of a five-year re-fleeting plan, was officially given the name “Kū Ha’aheo,” meaning “to stand tall with unselfish pride.”
According to Orozco, the name was selected from a pool of employee entries as part of a company-wide contest. The winner, Kona Station agent Molani Duldulao, said she came up with the name after realizing how much pride working at Aloha Air Cargo had given her.
The blessing ceremony performed to celebrate Aloha Air Cargo’s Boeing 373-300’s entry into service is unique to Hawaiian culture.
“There are many things that make Hawaii unique, and one of those is the spiritual sense that is Hawaii,” said Kahu Kordell Kekoa, who performed the ceremony. Kekoa is the spiritual director of the Religious Services program for Kamehameha Schools-Kāpalama in Honolulu, a private Christian school for children of Hawaiian ancestry, and the pastor of Bishop Memorial Church.
“Everything in Hawaii receives a blessing,” he continued. “It’s a way for us to acknowledge…that person, place or thing. Every aircraft in our Aloha Air Cargo fleet has been blessed. The blessing asks for safety, growth, acknowledging God in our island home and our families, including our Aloha Air Cargo family, and all the life components that make up Hawaii.”
Kekoa, who has conducted many Saltchuk blessings, said that names also play a very important role in Hawaiian culture.
“We believe a child will live up to the name that is given to them as an infant,” he said. “If we name our child “ikaika,” that child will be very strong in stature or character and sometimes get themselves into trouble if they do not live correctly. The name “pua” will represent their family name well as they are a blossom of the family. So it is with our aircraft. We believe our company has stood strong in the recent past, and the entrance of this 737-300 into our Hawaii fleet moves us forward to stand proudly, servicing more people in the Pacific with more space and movement of some very important packages for our Polynesian people. Kū Ha’aheo is a very important name given at a very strategic time and place on a very important, transformative aircraft.”
Duldulao started work as a cargo agent. She said she learned of the plane-naming contest from her morning supervisor just one week before submissions were due.
“I did a lot of thinking and came up with lots of different names, but I wasn’t sure what name to go with because I was always told that when giving a Hawaiian name, it has to have a good meaning to it,” Duldulao said. “I was thinking about how it’s a new plane, and how the 737-300 is going to allow the company to grow. Growing up, I was taught that whatever you do in life, you should do it with pride. I decided I wanted to use Ha’aheo because working at Aloha Air Cargo, when we work together, we work with pride to give our company a good name.”
Orozco echoed that the 300s are essential to the company’s growth. The new plane is more fuel efficient and quieter, and the ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Operations) capability is an exciting new feature.
“This plane is a big deal for us,” he said. “The ETOPS capability gives us wings, so to speak, allowing us to fly farther than we could have with only the 200 series. It’s a true symbol for the growth of our company.”
But for Duldulao, who lost her father last fall, it meant so much more.
“As I was growing up, my dad and brothers always taught me how to live off the land and also give back,” she said. “They taught me many things, like to appreciate things in life, and all that life has to offer, she concluded. “I got to name a plane, and I did it with pride.”