Hawaiian Airlines 789 Dreamliner

Five Hawaiian Airlines Planes Grounded Confounding Multiple Problems

Hawaiian Airlines reported Wednesday on their first quarter results, which are, at best mixed. There are big issues the carrier is still grappling with, including a fleet of planes with engine problems and a runway gone missing at their primary airport. But there are bright spots, too, like travel bookings ahead of last year, more demand for international travel, and four 787 Dreamliners scheduled to arrive by 2024.

Five A321neo aircraft are out of service and awaiting new engines.

Hawaiian Airlines A321neo
Airbus A321neo

Hawaiian hopes to resolve these problems by the end of this quarter, which would be by June. But clearly, the situation has gotten worse, not better, since last they spoke about it. In February, HA spokesperson Alex Da Silva told us, “Yes, we’ve had supply chain issues – many companies – during the pandemic. We’ve been working with our suppliers to prevent disruptions to our operations.” But disrupted, they are.

When we previously wrote about the Hawaiian A321 engine problems, just two planes had gone out of service and were awaiting new engines. Peter Ingram had said that parts availability issues resulted in the “A321s being grounded for an extended period, awaiting available serviceable engines.”

We were aware several weeks ago that the problem had since gotten worse, and at that time, four planes were already down. Now, however, five out of the eighteen narrowbody planes are disabled and awaiting engine repair/replacement. It has been suggested that more of the aircraft could be at risk of going out of service, which we hope is, in fact, not the case.

Others have commented that the issues are supply chain limitations and overall engine reliability problems. We were told the Pratt engines have multiple issues, including heat causing unexpected wear and engine vibration problems.

When one of the two engines has a problem, the plane can no longer be dispatched.

Airbus A330 widebody fleet is picking up the slack for the missing A321neos, which isn’t ideal.

In the interim, Hawaiian has had to replace 189-seat A321neo planes with larger, more expensive to operate, 278-seat A330 aircraft. That results in more fuel consumption, among other things. The widebody aircraft is too large, with an additional capacity of 89 seats, to be effective for application on less trafficked routes.

The ongoing Honolulu Airport runway outage severely hurt Hawaiian, far worse than other airlines.

Hawaiian reported that the ongoing outage of Honolulu Airport’s runway 8L, which is still being rebuilt, significantly impacts its operational performance. As a result of the delays, this is causing additional “block time” and “turn time” to be required. Block time is how long it takes from pushing back from the departure gate (“off-blocks”) to arriving at the destination gate (“on-blocks”). Turn or turnaround time is how long a plane spends at an airport between landing and departure.

Hawaiian said they hope the runway repair, which they expected to have been completed in February, will be completed later this quarter. When we spoke with the Hawaii DOT/Airports about the outage in February, they did not indicate that the work, which they referred to as “a big project,” would be completed anytime soon.

Reading between the lines, Ingram perhaps confirmed our doubts about the state completing the runway timely when he said, “We are hopeful that the project stays on track.”

Air Traffic Control protocols hurting performance.

Hawaiian reported that the FAA’s Honolulu Air Traffic Control prioritizes mainland flight arrivals. Therefore, as we have experienced, interisland flights can either be held before departure for Honolulu or can have a prolonged approach into Honolulu.

The airline said that this impacts Hawaiian more than Southwest since Hawaiian has most interisland flights (double the number), and more of the flights are clustered during the day when Air Traffic Control slows interisland traffic.

CEO Peter Ingram said today they are suffering from “Extensive waits for approval from air traffic control. During the most recent period, this has been a daily phenomenon.” This will undoubtedly impact Hawaii’s on-time performance, which had been stellar for nearly two decades before these unending problems.

Mismanaged website upgrade impacts this quarter’s financials.

Hawaiian said that problems with its website upgrade last week would result in a $4,000,000 to $6,000,000 “drag” reflected in this quarter’s results. According to HA, direct website bookings typically generate 60% of its revenue.

Hawaii travel bookings are ahead of both 2019 and 2022!

Hawaiian said the most significant growth is the return of international traffic compared with last year. They are currently ramping up capacity to both New Zealand and Japan.

The company said that they continue to outperform SWA on interisland travel. They acknowledged that interisland will be “the most difficult year-to-year competitive data point.”

Four Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliners scheduled by 2024.

The company still believes it will receive its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (lead photo) delivery in the last quarter of 2023. The plane will enter service early in 2024, after which three additional Dreamliners will join it before the end of 2024.


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12 thoughts on “Five Hawaiian Airlines Planes Grounded Confounding Multiple Problems”

  1. Mission of air traffic control is safe orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic. All 3 simultaneously all the time. However during my tenure although the mission was always first we tried to get the most work done in the shortest amount of time sometimes to the detriment of first come first served which is the doctrine taught to all air traffic controllers. Hawaiians statement about air traffic control in my opinion is not completely true however undoubtedly there are instances where their statement has merit.

  2. And the director of Transportation, Ed Sniffen still has a job with that delayed runway project!
    Unbelievable incompetence again from government in Hawaii with no repercussions. Too bad for HA, the largest private employer in the state having to deal with that and all the other internal problems!

  3. Two days ago I tried to make a $100 credit card companion fare booking using the HA Chat feature. After Two Hours, I still did not have the booking. I chose to stop the chat and book a reservation in five minutes on Expedia. Today my wife received an email saying that the companion discounts were removed from the website on 4/18 and to use the code just emailed and received on 4/27. I had been a loyal customer of HA but will now fly their competitors. I’m also getting rid of the credit card since one of the perks had no value to me this year.

  4. Boss, I just realized what went wrong with our Airbus 321 neo order – someone checked ‘no engine option’ instead of ‘new engine option’.

  5. I prefer Southwest Air over Hawaiian Airlines due to the overwhelming friendliness and accommodation from the SWA ground & in air employees.
    I have been flying HA between Hilo & Honolulu fairly regularly over the past year for medical purposes and the insurance schedules me with a less friendly Hawaiian Airlines. What happened to the aloha we knew over the years? Hilo is much friendlier than the somewhat grumpy Honolulu employees. Awe!

  6. What they need is some of those crackerjack project managers working on HART to help out with the runway project. /s

    On a recent trip from Maui to Oahu, coincidentally to visit a friend that works for Hawaiian, was subject to the interisland delay. We seemed to be taking longer than usual, it felt like we were pointed up but didn’t seem to be climbing, and it just felt slow. When the clouds parted I realized we were all the way west of Oahu, making a lazy turn back to HNL. Like our roads, air traffic and other infrastructure capacity seems to have lagged behind the pace of transient accommodation development. That isn’t a comment on tourism, but a criticism of the lack of foresight and integrated planning by the state and counties.

  7. How many problems can Hawaiian Air blame on others?
    Sounds like failure to plan ahead and failure to find creative solutions.
    Looking forward to all the HA fans posting excuses.

    1. The runway construction does not have a finish date. Why? Because they hire union contractors and they will complete it when Their ready. What kind of answer is “We don’t know when it will be completed”. (Hawaii DOT)

  8. Just saw Air New Zealand canceled a bunch of flights because of a “ worldwide supply chain issue” with the engines for their A321 fleet….j

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