Will Hawaiian Dreamliners Get Trounced By Huge UAL Order

Alert: Brace For These Hawaiian Air Changes Starting Immediately

Now that the Alaska Airlines purchase of Hawaiian Airlines is in the oven baking, and should be cooked in about a year, 1) what is about to happen in the interim, and 2) what will Hawaiian Airlines look like a year out? We recently reported what could happen with the HawaiianMiles program and today we’ll look in a different direction.

Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner: arriving any day in Honolulu.

After so many delays, the first aircraft of the upcoming Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner 787 fleet is nearly ready to fly. Tickets are available for the inaugural routes to and from California in the spring of 2024 that commemorate this entirely new plane type for the Hawaii bellwether airline. First up is Honolulu to San Francisco, followed by Honolulu to Los Angeles.

Daily service starts April 15 between Honolulu and San Francisco and runs for one month. Starting May 15, the sole Dreamliner moves to the Los Angeles – Maui and Honolulu routes.

We’re watching to see the plane parked nearby Terminal 1 at HNL. It should be highly visible. If you see it before we do, please let us know.

There were due to be twelve Dreamliners: will that change?

It’s hard to say definitively, but we suspect that if the Alaska acquisition is consummated, the new Seattle based Hawaiian Airlines fleet will still arrive. If the purchase doesn’t go through due to the government interceding, then all bets are off in terms of what the future holds for Hawaiian Airlines.

All-Boeing Alaska Airlines will dramatically change Hawaiian fleet.

Alaska Airlines is all-Boeing. They did have a try with Airbus A321 planes when they acquired Virgin America, but the last 10 were sold to American Airlines and Alaska has returned to all Boeing 737 fleet, which is in slow transition to an all MAX fleet as the older planes are phased out over time. We suspect the remaining Airbus A321 will be sold to Delta Airlines which has its own maintenance facility.

What could the new fleet used for Hawaiian Airlines routes look like?

When it’s all said and done, we don’t expect the Hawaiian Airlines aircraft to be anything like what they are today. Expect to see the entire airline re-fleeted as you’ll read below.

Why Hawaiian Loves 717 Planes? Incredible Landing Video Explains

Boeing 717 interisland fleet replacement.

We won’t rehash the pressing need to replace the quarter century old, worn Boeing 717 fleet. That project is imminent. Last week, Alaska indicated it is already thinking about replacing the aging planes with Boeing 737. As we said, that could take the form of either deploying their legacy 737-800 and -900 planes, or a new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 7 and/or 8.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii interisland flights use Boeing 737 MAX 8, but they are not a dedicated interisland fleet. Instead, they rotate in and out of Hawaii, on short then long missions. Many have pointed out that the engines on the MAX planes are not the best suited for interisland travel, with the exhaustive engine starts and stops throughout the day on flights averaging not more than 100 miles.

Hawaiian Air Evolution: Economy + Extra Comfort Takes New Flight Paths

A330 mainland fleet replacement.

Hawaiian Airlines has just re-upped its short term leases for some of the legacy wide-body A330-200 aircraft now found on many mainland and international routes. Hawaiian said, “We have executed two-year extensions for four A330 leases that would have otherwise expired in 2024.”

The current A330 planes are about a decade old, and the model is 30 years old.

The Dreamliner, on the other hand, is just a 15 year old model that’s in high demand, and is more fuel efficient, and less expensive to operate, to the tune of thousands of dollars saved per flight operated.

Alaska’s obvious choice to replace A330 planes is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. How that would occur depends on factors of plane availability and airline financial conditions. The first twelve Dreamliners are already set to arrive over the next 4 years, and we see nothing changing those plans as long as the Alaska purchase goes through. These bring the likelihood of more profitability with a “premium-heavy” configuration.

Did Hawaiian Airlines Get Leapfrogged By This Announcement?

Hawaiian Airlines A321neo replacement.

This plane is a very mixed blessing for Hawaiian and we doubt Alaska will opt to keep them. The troubled fleet of 18 planes still has severe engine problems.

CEO Peter Ingram said recently about them, “We face more than our fair share of challenges.” The airline never fully disclosed how many of the planes are being grounded and for exactly how long.

Pratt & Whitney said in September that each repair required could take up to 300 days! Hawaiian then said, “We have adjusted our schedules to accommodate up to four out-of-service aircraft through Q4 and into the beginning of next year (2024)…Every one of those (engine) removals drives another aircraft on ground because we aren’t sitting with a bunch of spare engines in our hangar right now to be able to accommodate that…We have been living a little bit too close to a razor’s edge…Once we obtain certainty on our A321 engines, we are also encouraged about the plans we can develop with our expanded fleet.” Hawaiian, currently is trying to obtain an adequate compensation plan from P&W.

And the choice is clear that Alaska could and would want to use 737 MAX planes to replace the A321neo fleet as soon as that option becomes operationally and financially viable.

Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner extra legroom.

Say goodbye to anything but 3-across seating on Hawaiian flights.

Hawaiian’s 787 economy cabin will consist of “266 Collins Aerospace Aspire light-weight seats with ergonomically contoured back and armrests that maximize seat space, offer more shoulder and hip room and feature a 12-inch seat back monitor with USB-A and USB-C charging ports.” They are configured for economy with 3-3-3 seating. Boeing 737 and 737 MAX will consist of 3-3 seating, which is universally true with those planes.

No premium economy for Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines at least for now.

Neither Alaska nor Hawaiian has ever had a true wide body premium economy product in the way that American, Delta and United do. Neither of the companies’ extra legroom products are premium economy. We’re still of the belief that “some form of premium economy to evolve at Hawaiian Airlines, simply due to industry competitive pressure.”

Beat of Hawaii will fly and review United Airlines’ premium economy wide body product to Hawaii in the next two weeks. True premium economy sits in between economy and domestic first class with a more moderate cost, wider seats, more legroom, upgraded meals, dedicated flight attendants, and other amenities.

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19 thoughts on “Alert: Brace For These Hawaiian Air Changes Starting Immediately”

  1. Lot of aircraft shuffling going on across the airlines right now. My upcoming trip in May on Delta has replaced the A350 they were originally using with a 767 from ATL to HNL and strangely, instead of the usual 737 to ATL they’re now subbing a 757. Does that sound a little odd to anyone using an aircraft of that size on essentially an interisland flight length of an hour?

  2. We have been flying to hawaii from Seattle and Seattle and spokane for 30 + years. Alaska has aways been our 1st choice because of direct SEA-LIH . We now are beginning to fly Spokane -Kona and hope with the purchse of Hawaiian that there will become more choices tothe Big Island.
    Sounds like a great combination as Alaska is one of the better airlines to travel on. Great Servic ,great mileage pland .


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