Hawaiian expands its new Airbus fleet


POSTED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hawaiian Airlines already is in full throttle even as the state tries to dig itself out of a recession.

The state's oldest carrier said yesterday it is accelerating its expansion plans with the purchase of an additional Airbus A330-200 aircraft that will be delivered in the second quarter of 2011.

Hawaiian, vying for two of the four coveted spots to serve Tokyo's Haneda International Airport from the United States, now has firm commitments for the deliveries of 10 A330s, including three leased aircraft that will be delivered this year. Hawaiian has been looking for international opportunities to broaden service that already includes Sydney; Manila; Papeete, Tahiti; and Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Mark Dunkerley, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian, said the additional A330 could be used for its proposed Haneda service in October if the airline is selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Otherwise, he said, Hawaiian will find another use for the aircraft. He said he expects a decision from the DOT by May. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines also have applied for slots.

The A330 seats 294 passengers—30 more than Hawaiian's current Boeing 767 fleet configuration—and has an operating range of 6,050 nautical miles.

“;Our aircraft is certainly going to be fully used,”; Dunkerley said. “;We always have a range of options in terms of beefing up existing routes and flying to new destinations if we are unsuccessful in getting a (Haneda) route, but I don't think we will be unsuccessful because we think our case is the strongest of all the applicants.”;

Dunkerley said Hawaiian was accelerating its growth plans because an Airbus delivery slot became available.

“;We are extremely fortunate to be in a position where we can contemplate growth,”; he said. “;Most of our competitors, having not enjoyed strong financial results, are in a place where they have to curtail growth and, in many instances, have to shrink in size.”;

Hawaiian is phasing out its 18 Boeing 767s because the new A330s—as well as at least six new A350XWB-800s it is ordering—offer increased flexibility and improved fuel efficiency.

The airline's first of three leased A330s is due to arrive in April, with the others scheduled for delivery in May and November. The initial A330 will be used beginning June 17 as part of Hawaiian's Honolulu-Los Angeles service.

Hawaiian announced plans in September 2007 to purchase six A330s, with options to buy up to six more. It is now exercising one of those options, giving it ownership of seven A330s in addition to the three it is leasing. Hawaiian also said in 2007 that it would begin taking delivery in 2017 on six new Airbus A350XWB-800s, with options to purchase an additional six aircraft.

Hawaiian said that for every two or three A330s it brings in, it will retire one of its 767s. The result will be a net increase to the fleet, with roughly half of the 767s to leave the fleet in the next three to four years and the remainder of the 767s to be phased out over the next decade.