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 !

  4. Aloha guys. Would you happen to have any info as to why HA33 from LAX to OGG was severely delayed on July 25th and 26th? The flights were operated by two different A330’s. The ohana and I are traveling on this flight this upcoming Wednesday and are hoping for no delays

    1. Hi Mike.

      We don’t know anything more unfortunately. Hopefully someone else can give us a hand on that.


  5. Today I called Hawaiian Airlines customer service, which is located in the Philippines. I asked if the Airbus engine problems would impact my trip to Hawaii in August. The customers service agents know nothing about the problems. In fact, they told me there are no problems! They don’t have a clue. When I asked to be transferred to someone in Hawaii who knew about the engine issues and could answer my questions, I was told they can’t transfer calls and they don’t have a phone number for customers to call. Why isn’t Hawaiian Airlines providing information to customers. This is a mess and how they’re handling it will make it worse. In addition to not having any info., The agent said the website was having problems. What the heck is going on at Hawaiian Airlines?

    1. Hi Jeanine.

      We mentioned earlier, it is our understanding that Hawaiian is still trying to get it all sorted out so that they can adjust their schedules as needed and advise customers. As soon as we learn more we’ll provide an update.


  6. Please continue to keep us informed of potential travel impacts & flight schedule disruptions, here in Hawaii. So many details, it seems (jet engines removal & repairs, not just mere engine “inspections”); these repairs done on the mainland (?) vs. Honolulu (?); time frames for complete resolution (?); safety of air travel on not-yet-fixed planes (?). It would be nice to be able to plan ahead. Meanwhile, I’m forwarding your updates to family & friends, and I am personally avoiding at all costs, the specific airlines that are affected.

    1. Hi John.

      We will know more in a few days about this particular problem. As for avoiding airlines, it does seem that the entire industry is more prone than ever to unexpected things happening that can result in delays or cancellations. We’re about to write another one with yet another airline today.


  7. Hi guys
    Hope I have seen today’s Wall Street Journal piece on the mess that Hawaiian Air )and Delta to a lesser degree Delta) is unfortunately in with Airbus and it’s A320 problem with the defective P&W engines. Article quotes CEO Faury saying the A320 engine changeouts and inspections alone will result in “a lot of work for P&W and…us. Airbus has already posted a 20-percent drop in 2023 net income or about $1.69 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Check out the article on page B3 of today’s WSJ. Jim E

  8. Mahalo Beat of Hawai’i, for your help in understanding what’s going on with Hawai’ian Airlines. This is just another devastating blow to our local airline.
    I’ve been reading way too many reports about the Neos, having multiple issues.
    Quality control on the lines is extremely important when it’s a trans pacific flight.
    No wiggle room for error.
    Re the Starlink situation, I have been in touch with friends that witnessed the rockets take off from Spaceforce Vandenberg, carrying the Starlink satellites into space last week. Pretty awesome and it gives hope that it will expand service soon.
    Aloha and blessings to you both, always.

    1. Hi Pam.

      Thank you! We appreciate your comments, and the input on Hawaiian Air. Yes, in spite of naysayers, we think HA will move forward soon with the Starlink WiFi. It is in process. The certification process is taking longer than expected – what else is new with both technology and with Hawaii.


  9. I was not impressed with the A321 aircraft. Plus the Hawaiian flight attendants acted like they didn’t care about their jobs like they alway have on widebody equipment. Thus I am not partial to Hawaian any more.
    Thanks for letting me put my two cents worth in.

  10. The HA app is still not working adequately. I keep having to input my HA miles # and my KTN#. HA has had my profile data for years. It is unnecessary and frustrating to have such a poorly operatingApp with no apparent way to update personal profile info.
    Peter W

  11. Reading the “tea leaves” from the earnings conference call, and the “breaking news” bulletin in regard to the P&W engines on the A321’s, HA has been walloped by the “pineapple express”!

    I certain to preserve cash, the HA ELT has just stopped in their tracks from any further testing/deployment of the new Starlink Wi-Fi system – and kicked that can down the road as they have bigger problems on their plate to manage.

    My hunch is HA’s ELT will “mia culpa” to Boeing, and end-up with a 737 MAX replacement program for both the inter-island fleet, and the longer haul destinations that can easily be reached within range of the MAX variants. Other flying can be continue with the A330’s, and gradually prune those from the fleet as more 787’s come on-line.

    Is Boeing still sweetening the “honey pot” as they did as recently as last year when MAX orders dried up?

    Does the MAX make sense for HA’s inter-island service, and/or will Boeing “loan” HA older but very capable 737 NG variants, such as the 737-600 and 700’s until the MAX’s appear on HA’s property?

    Long-term, this will help HA reduce its maintenance costs by focusing on two aircraft types, the 737 MAX and the 787’s.

    Why does HA need to increase costs by adding what is speculated to be the A220 and two other aircraft types, and therefore have to maintain spare engines, parts, training, F.A.A. documentation, etc?

  12. Our flights in October between PDX and HNL were rescheduled
    and changed from A321 neo to A330 widebody early last week.
    Perhaps they already knew and were just delaying the announcement of bad news?

    1. If they were withholding info that would materially change their financials, they should prepare for a shareholder lawsuit.

      They’re a public company, required to adhere to SEC reporting requirements.

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