Virgin America Hawaii

Hawaii Workhorse A321neo Launched Today

The new Airbus A321neo airliner has been in our minds and words for several years with very good reason as you’ll see below. Whether we like it or not, this plane is set to soon become the primary vehicle for transporting visitors to and from the Hawaiian Islands. Today that eventuality became reality, and with a twist.

Virgin America A321neo launched today.

Virgin America became the first airline to take delivery, with its first A321 neo arriving in Hamburg Germany. The Alaska Airlines owned company was also the first to sign on for the A321neo years ago and agreed to lease ten of this largest and longest range A320 variant. These planes are to be delivered over the next year and a half. We don’t know if and when they will be seen on Hawaii routes, but the first aircraft will enter service on the US mainland next month.

Why A321 is pivotal to Hawaii deals.

The A321 will transform flights to Hawaii and Hawaii deals. The new plane will for the first time, put airlines (including Hawaiian Airlines) on equal footing. More routes with more competition equal more deals.

In addition, the A321neo’s unprecedented 4,000 mile range allows for flights to Hawaii from cities such as Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Dallas, Mexico City and many more that were previously inaccessible by appropriate aircraft.

Why Hawaiian Airlines needs this aircraft.

In recent years, most airlines have moved to narrow-body 737, 757 and A320 flights to Hawaii. Those include not only Virgin America, but Alaska, American, Delta, United, etc. The exceptions to narrow-body flights are limited, primary routes to Maui and Honolulu where larger planes remain appropriate.

Hawaiian Airlines has not had long range, narrow-body aircraft in its fleet for many years and instead operated on the no longer appropriate concept of using Maui and Honolulu as the Hawaii hubs to neighbor islands.  They relied on a combination of wide-body legacy 767 and current generation A330 planes. As a result, however, Hawaiian has had far fewer opportunities to compete across many island routes. Those severe limitations impacted not only routes to the outer islands (Kona, Lihue, Hilo) but also their ability to fly on many routes to Maui and Honolulu where less passenger density than a wide-body is required.

Hawaiian Airlines’ A321 fleet is set to begin deliveries early next year with flight announcements expected later this year. Recently we discussed how the new Hawaiian Airlines A321 fleet will be configured and much more.

6 thoughts on “Hawaii Workhorse A321neo Launched Today”

  1. I really miss Hawaiian Airlines direct flight to Maui from Portland. Makes me want to fly the non stop on Alaska. Any chance they will offer the nonstop again on Hawaiian?

  2. I thought Hawaiian controls Ohana Air, and that takes care of short neighbor-island hops with them?

    What I look for is Southwest plying the non-stop Houston or Dallas routes. We have in the past had no trouble booking AA non-stop from DFW to HNL, or Continental non-stop from IAH, so what’s new here?

    And without an anti-trust re-regulation of the 4 or 5 Legacy carriers to which routes have been winnowed down, how can you expect fare “deals” to return? Overbooked, packed sardine cans with coin-op overhead baggage compartments is what I’ve come to expect.

    1. Hello Nick.
      Just my views on your thoughts from my experience. Hope they help you book a deal and get some sun.
      -Hawaiian already dominates inter-island with their Hawaiian Airlines 717’s. Almost everyone else transfers to them inter I. Some minor competition, it is Hawaiian’s to lose if they really screw up. (Don’t wait for that).
      -Ohana serves Molokai, Lanai and some West Maui flights. Small markets for small planes. Same great service and fly through capability!
      -Southwest will be limited to Bay Area / San Diego / LAX due to 737 Max capabilities. (Your mentioned AA routes are larger aircraft).
      -Fares are coming down due to the incredible fuel savings from new plane technologies / materials. Competition helps and various Airport Authorities waving fees to generate business and develop new routes for years to come.
      -Maximize miles and status from credit cards and don’t be afraid to act when your price point shows up.
      Hope you enjoy looking as much as us!

    1. Hawaiian previously operated to Ontario, and it was not profitable. I wouldn’t expect a return, but SNA is always possible when the 321s arrive.

  3. Hawaiian Air has used single aisle long-distance airplanes in the past. You have to go back, but until 1993, HAL had a fleet of DC-8-62 and 63 models along with their L-1011 product for long distance flights. They used these planes initially on the HNL-LAX/SFO runs in the 80’s, but converted most of them to wide body service when the L-1011s came in, relegating the DC-8s to south pacific operations for years.

    This all got changed when HAL took possession of leased AA DC-10s in 1994 and dumped the L-1011 and DC-8 ops all together.

    With all that said, the on-boarding of A321’s is Hawaiian’s answer to what to do about the 767’s, while also addressing how to expand to secondary mainland west coast markets. This also resolves an issue of what to do about the south pacific operations as the 767’s still ply the PPG run, and the A-330 is probably overkill on the PPT runs as it stands currently.

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