Thirteen Boeing 717-200s willBy Russ Lynch
supplant 15 DC-9-50s for interisland
flights by the end of
the year 2001
Hawaiian Airlines today said it will spend $430 million on 13 new Boeing 717-200 aircraft, replacing its entire interisland fleet in the year 2001.
Hawaiian also has options on seven more 717-200s, at a cost of about $200 million.
Paul J. Casey, the airline's president and chief executive officer, said the Boeing 717 is "an absolute gem of an airplane" which is designed for short-haul, high-frequency service just like Hawaiian's current fleet of 15 McDonnell-Douglas DC-9-50s.
The new aircraft to be used by Hawaiian Airlines starting in 2001:
Passenger load: 123.
First-class seats: 8.
Economy seats: 115.
Hawaiian will get its first 717 in February 2001, with the rest of the 13 arriving through that year, Casey said at a press conference this morning at Honolulu Airport.
He said the 717s are 25 percent more fuel-efficient and cost far less to maintain than the company's DC-9 fleet. As a result, he said, Hawaiian expects to save $200 million in cash operating expenses over the first 10 years of operation.
Casey said the better efficiency will allow Hawaiian to make more frequent flights than it does with the DC-9s.
Doug Groseclose, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group vice president, said it is an ideal aircraft for Hawaiian. He said it is fuel-efficient, quiet and roomy.
Each 717 will have eight seats in first class and 115 in coach. Casey said the jets have wider aisles and larger overhead storage bins than the DC-9s. Each of Hawaiian's current DC-9-50s has 133 seats.
Boeing recently completed a year of flight testing with the 717, and the first delivery, to a California-based airline, will take place this week, Groseclose said.
Based on the airline's expected flight schedule in 2002, the lower operating costs of the 717 should improve Hawaiian's profits before taxes by $15 million, Casey said.
John W. Adams, chairman of Hawaiian Airlines' board of directors, said the purchase may be the largest investment ever made in Hawaii's interisland air travel market.
"It caps three years of measured growth at Hawaiian and reflects a balance sheet strong enough to acquire a fleet of state-of-the-art aircraft that will carry our passengers safely, comfortably and efficiently into the 21st century," Adams said in a written statement.
He said Hawaiian has arranged financing for the purchase through Seattle-based Boeing.
John Garabaldi, Hawaiian's chief financial officer, said the financing arrangements are confidential. But he said, typically in the industry, the buyer puts down 30 percent cash as each airplane is received.
The airline also has 12 widebody DC-10s that it uses in its mainland-Hawaii and Hawaii-South Pacific services.
Hawaiian put its first jet, a DC-9, into interisland service in 1966.
Hawaiian was founded in January 1929 as Inter-Island Airways Ltd., flying eight-passenger Sikorsky S-38 seaplanes. It became Hawaiian Airlines in 1941.
The airline now has about 3,050 employees.