Caught Off-Guard: Problems Could Impact 43% Of Hawaiian's Mainland Fleet

Hawaiian Airlines’ Flight Schedule Up-In-The-Air Following Surprise Announcement

Updated. See Hawaiian Air comment on the fast-evolving situation below. How is a regional carrier like Hawaiian Airlines impacted compared to a global carrier like Delta Air Lines when 1200 jet engines get recalled for inspection by manufacturer Pratt & Whitney? We listened to Hawaiian Airlines’ quarterly earnings call yesterday, and if there was one big reveal, it was this one.

The Hawaii bellwether was caught understandably surprised and unprepared by an announcement from the aircraft engine manufacturer that occurred minutes earlier. The recall by Pratt & Whitney owner RTX, applies to the an unrevealed number of the engines that power 18 Airbus A321neo planes that make up a significant part of Hawaiian Airline’s 42-plane mainland fleet. These narrow-body planes, seen on Kauai and Kona routes exclusively and on Maui and Honolulu flights as well, actually amount to 43% of Hawaiian’s mainland/international planes.

This news was certainly not what Hawaiian Airlines or its passengers wanted or anticipated hearing yesterday morning. And it comes during a very busy travel time when any potential disruption to flight capacity will be sorely felt. The multiple airlines impacted have had no comments about the problem thus far, although our understanding is that the industry is understandably livid about the latest blow associated with these now long-troubled engines.

Comments that Peter Ingram, CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, had obviously prepared before learning this news painted a more positive picture. Ingram said that A321 fleet availability, related to these engine problems, was better and that only 2-3 of the aircraft were recently offline instead of the earlier 5. He planned for as few as one plane to be out of service as soon as the 4th quarter. Until this.

Ingram then clarified that the Pratt & Whitney announcement that preceded his statement rendered his comments “subject to change” with the “specific impacts not yet known.” He also predicted that “in the days ahead, schedule changes are possible.”

Regular reader Pam said earlier today, “I can’t believe it’s taken this long for Hawaiian Airlines to acknowledge that there’s clearly a problem with those planes.”

In reply to Pam, it’s our sense that Hawaiian was not aware of the extent of this ongoing problem. In their earnings call, they were definitely surprised at the scope of the remaining problem and the resolution that the engine manufacturer presented. Hawaiian has been forthcoming about the engine problems at various stages, but this continues to escalate beyond what we, or perhaps even they, knew about.

Hawaiian CEO previously expressed hope this was already approaching resolution. Not so.

At the last quarterly earnings call before the one yesterday, Peter Ingram expressed optimism that the problems with the A321neo jetliner engines would soon be resolved – he’d hoped that would be the case as soon as last month.

Then yesterday, just before Hawaiian’s own earnings call began, came another earnings call, that of Pratt & Whitney’s parent company. In that call, they indicated the far greater extent of the problem, which will require that an significant percentage of these jet engines used by both Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines on Hawaii fleets, be returned for off-the-wing inspections that will be time-consuming and expensive. Time-on-wing (TOW) is an aviation industry measure of the operational reliability of engines.

Awaiting more news as to how many aircraft may go offline, when and for how long.

Pratt & Whitney said yesterday, as was confirmed by Hawaiian Airlines, that some of the aircraft will need to go out of service for engine removal and inspection as soon as within the next two months, while others may be on an extended time frame of up to one year. Each aircraft may need to be out of service for up to two months for the process. Another complication for smaller airlines including Hawaiian, that do not have their own engine maintenance shop, will be queuing together with other airlines to get the work done.

Hawaiian Airlines responds to the potential impact on their operations.

We reached out to Hawaiian Airlines today in an attempt to better understand how this might impact their flight operations. Below is the email we received this afternoon, that came in response to the question “Do you know yet how that process may impact your upcoming flight schedule?”

It’s too early to tell as we haven’t yet fully calibrated the impact Pratt & Whitney’s recent announcement will have on our fleet. We are working closely with P&W to learn more.

Alex Da Silva, – Director, External Communications, Hawaiian Airlines

We don’t know which of their planes are offline at any one time. But Hawaiian themselves have reported that up to 5 of the aircraft have been out of service at any one time as a result of these ongoing engine problems.

Peter Ingram said yesterday that the airline had received compensation for an undisclosed amount related to the engine reliability problems.

Problems magnified at smaller “regional” Hawaiian compared with “global” Delta.

As we pointed out yesterday, these jet engine problems impact two fleets of planes used for Hawaii flights, those of Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines. The impact on the two companies, however, is vastly different. At Delta, the A321 fleet is comprised of some 37 aircraft. Given Delta’s enormity compared with Hawaiian, that represents just 4% of its 943 planes in total.

At Hawaiian Airlines, too, this is one of only two aircraft types that the company uses for flying its extensive mainland and international routes. The A321neo fleet of 18 planes represents a whopping 43% of their mainland/international fleet.

Delta has its own repair shop for P&W GTF engines.

As an example of its scale, earlier this year Delta Air Lines opened its own engine repair shop for these GTF engines. We believe that their P&W engines with these specific issues will be repaired and thus will not need to go back directly to the manufacturer.

The new 155k square foot Delta facility with 100+ mechanics, is dedicated specifically to GTF maintenance which includes the PW1100G engines in question. Delta became an MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) provider for these engines, both internally, and for other airlines.

New fleet of Hawaiian Airlines 787 Dreamliners delayed.

During yesterday’s earnings call, the company also announced a couple of other noteworthy issues. Those include a two-month added delay in the delivery of its first-ever Boeing 787 Dreamliner. That plane is set to become part of a 12-aircraft fleet over the next few years. The way supply chain issues are impacting the industry, we will be pleasantly surprised to see the plane at Honolulu Airport in January 2024, which is the date they are currently shooting for. Even then, it will take some familiarization time before it is deployed on west coast to Hawaii missions first. Thereafter, and as more of these new planes come online, they will be seen in New York, and international destinations as well.

Starlink Free WiFi is also delayed.

Hawaiian is rolling out its free WiFi on all planes with the exception of interisland. While that was previously expected to take place in 2023, that will now occur in 2024, hopefully. The certification process for the new Starlink system is now in process. Once that is complete, the aircraft retrofit program will commence. Hawaiian continues to reaffirm that the service will be 100% free for all passengers.

Beat of Hawaii photo of HA 321neo on the ground at Lihue Kauai.

Updated 5 pm, July 26.

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20 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines’ Flight Schedule Up-In-The-Air Following Surprise Announcement”

  1. This is getting more ridiculous by the day. HA needs to start leasing other aircraft to maintain their schedule. They have already taken customers money in advance, like myself and refuse to refund because technically my flight from LAS to OGG is still scheduled in September, and if there is a problem, good luck finding a seat on another airline at the last minute.

  2. Hi BOH,

    I noticed that N780HA (the first Hawaiian Dreamliner) just took off today — for the first time in a while — from its storage location at Kelly Field (SKF) in San Antonio for Payne Field (PAE) in Seattle. It left me wondering if it’s getting any final maintenance done before continuing on to HNL for delivery to Hawaiian.

    Thought I’d flag that for you guys!


    1. Hi Will.

      Thanks. Yes, we did see that and others noted it as well. We’ll update if that has any immediate significance.


  3. We were very happy to be flying HA this time but this has totally upended our trip and HA will not help us-without , paying a huge change amount !


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