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The Fascinating and Turbulent State of Hawaii’s Airlines

An Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 in Maui - Photo: Ben Granucci

A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 in Maui – Photo: Ben Granucci

When it comes to places with an abundance of short-haul flying, it is hard to beat Hawaii. Many of the islands are small enough not to have all of the essential services that their residents may need, though within the chain of islands they are available. And in a place where tourism is the number one industry, there must be a way for visitors to access the majority of the state, even though the vast majority of flights to and from the islands arrive at a single airport.

Many island chains have ferry service, however in Hawaii that service remarkably doesn’t exist today. A short-lived high-speed ferry system that opened several years ago took hours to transit the roughly 100 mile distance between Oahu and Maui. It closed after a judge ruled that the permitting process was flawed and the operator went bankrupt. Inter-island flying is now the only way to go.

In Hawaii, flying is king and competition is fierce. The last decade has seen both the entry of new carriers into the marketplace and some high-profile failures. Historically, there were two tiers of airlines providing service between the islands: large commercial airlines that flew to both the mainland and to major airports within the state, and commuter airlines that linked the major airports with smaller outlying airports. However in the last ten years, those lines have become blurred. Today, the air transport industry in the state finds itself in a state of flux.

Continue reading The Fascinating and Turbulent State of Hawaii’s Airlines

Flight Review: Flying Economy on an Hawaiian Airlines’ A330 to Auckland

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330s at the terminal in Honolulu - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330s at the terminal in Honolulu – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Getting to New Zealand from the United States is a very limited affair.  The only way to get there directly is with Air New Zealand and at some times of the year (around Christmas, especially) capacity becomes limited due to operating only three daily flights (two from LAX, one from SFO).

More recently a new choice was offered to New Zealand; Hawaiian Airlines flying from Honolulu (HNL) to Auckland (AKL). The new flights started in March and they fly three times a week between the two cities.

Using their new Airbus A330-200 aircraft, Hawaiian’s service to the south Pacific allows one-stop service from a number of west coast cities (although all cities, apart from Seattle, require an overnight stay in Honolulu when southbound).  After I had flown down to Hawaii from Seattle and spent a brief two hours in the warmth that permeates Honolulu airport, it was time to board another Hawaiian aircraft for my journey to New Zealand.

Continue reading Flight Review: Flying Economy on an Hawaiian Airlines’ A330 to Auckland

Hawaiian Airlines Starts Service to New Zealand with an A330

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 receiving a nice farewell. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines.

This past week, Hawaiian Airlines launched another new route to its network: Honolulu to Auckland, New Zealand.  The new service will use their 294-seat Airbus A330-200.

The new service will be three days a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Honolulu (HA 445) and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Auckland (HA 446). This new route makes Hawaiian the only US carrier to serve Auckland.

“We have been delighted by the interest in our new service, both here at home and in New Zealand,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “The deep cultural connections between our islands and the islands of Aotearoa make New Zealand a natural destination for Hawaiian and for our singular brand of authentic Hawaiian hospitality.”

Hawaiian Dancers.

Hawaiian Dancers celebrate the New Zealand flight. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines.

“The United States is a vital market for New Zealand leisure and business travel, and is a key focus for our marketing efforts given the significant potential for growth that exists,” Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler stated.

This is the first of three new services announced to launch this year, along with Sendai, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan. In the last couple of years the airline’s aggressive expansion has included numerous routes to Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Tahiti, American Samoa and increased service to Australia.

The inaugural flight of HA 445 was celebrated with gate side festivities that included Hawaiian music and hula, a performance honoring the Maori culture and a traditional Hawaiian blessing

Hawaiian Airlines Maori Dancers during inaugural celebration.

Hawaiian Airlines Maori Dancers during inaugural celebration. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines has also announced that it plans to move up its Portland to Honolulu Airbus A330-200 launch date as it is taking earlier than expected delivery of new aircraft. The route is currently flown using a Boeing 767. Portland can now expect the A330 to start service on April 20th, which is about three weeks early.

The airline has been in the process of replacing their aging Boeing 767-300’s and has also announced orders for the Airbus A321neo as they continue their rapid expansion across the Pacific.

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent.

Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr

Narrow Body Aircraft and the 757 – a Popular Long Haul Option?

An American Airlines 757-200 at Los Angeles, a sight that can't last forever - Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com

An American Airlines 757-200 at Los Angeles, a sight that can’t last forever – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com

If you fly long-haul in North America you have probably flown on a narrow bodied aircraft. Whether it be transcontinental flights between the coasts or flying transatlantic between the USA and Europe, the North American airlines just love to use these smaller, more efficient aircraft.  For me, the daddy of these aircraft is the Boeing 757, which is no longer in production but still is the stalwart of the narrow bodies.

Flying with Delta, United, US Airways and American Airlines you will more than likely step onto a 757-200 or the super long 757-300 for a flight to Hawaii, New York or even London.  But what happens when this aircraft goes out of service?  What is there to replace it? As the 757s start to be retired from service due to age (US Airways is already doing this), the airlines are going to have to start replacing these aircraft with something… but what?

A Rough Chart showing Etops 60 vs Etops 120 between New York and London

A Rough Chart showing Etops 60 vs Etops 120 between New York and London

You need to look first at what makes these aircraft so popular: the passenger to range ratio.  The 757 has that unique mix of enough passengers on-board with the range to get it over an ocean or across a large continent without a hassle, while still maintaining reasonable fuel burn costs.  The narrow body set up (single aisle) allows the flight to serve routes, and especially cities, which would not be able to handle the wide body (generally double aisle) aircraft such as the Boeing 767, Boeing 777 or Airbus A330.

Historically if you were going to fly long-haul you needed four engines. Even as far back as the Boeing 707 or the Douglas DC 8, these aircraft were designed to fly those long haul routes with engines for backup, should one fail.  Then along came aircraft like the Boeing 757, 767 and Airbus A300.  They only had two engines, but were still able to cover long distances over water with only minor changes.

Although ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Engine Operations) has been around for quite some time it had always been restricted 60 minutes, then it was extended to 120 minutes.  The 120 extension came in to help flights across the Atlantic to London.

 

A United 757-300, the Aircraft that never ends - Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com

A United 757-300, the Aircraft that never ends – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com

At a 60 minute rating they would have to fly from New York to London over Iceland to ensure that there was a landing site in range within 60 minutes.  With new engine & navigation technology, came the introduction of 120 rating (though 180 minute etops is now the standard).  It meant you could go direct over the ocean without a worry, as half way across you would still be within 2 hours of Iceland or New York or London.  This revolutionized air travel.

As technology progressed more, the ETOPS ratings extended out, with Boeing currently holding a 330 minute rating for the 777 & 787 aircraft. Airbus is expecting a 350 minute rating for the new A350 XWB.

Today, narrow body aircraft serve plenty of ETOPS routes.  Alaska Airlines operates the Boeing 737-800 & 900 from the west coast to Hawaii and there are quite a few rumors that Southwest might join them with their 737-800′s as well.

The A320 family though does some interesting ETOPS flights as well.  The Airbus A318, also known as the Baby Bus, flies across the Atlantic with British Airways and Air Canada  Air Canada flies an A319; a long way to go on such a small aircraft.  When you have long thin routes (long distance, small amount of passengers) you need to use an appropriate aircraft.

But which aircraft will most likely fill the gap that the 757 will leave?  Boeing has the 737-900ER and variants of the new 737 Max as well. Airbus is offering the A321 and soon the A321neo.

The A320neo family should extend the range of this aircraft by a good 600 miles.  This could be the difference of serving a route or not and combines the capacity of the original A321, with the range of an A319 (the aircraft in the Airbus narrow body family with the longest range).

American Airlines has selected the A321 to replace its aging 757-200s and 767-200s on its transcontinental routes.  Hawaiian Airlines just ordered the A321neo to expand its ETOPS operations. Flights from Honolulu to Los Angeles for instance are in the range of an A321neo and by utilizing this aircraft, they can free up some of their A330s or 767s to serve other, longer routes or routes that need the higher capacity. The A321neo will allow them to expand to possible new markets that do not have the demand for the larger A330 or 767.

Other airlines, like Icelandair, which currently only operates a fleet of Boeing 757s, are planning to expand their operations by introducing 12 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft. United Airlines, which currently has over 150 757s has ordered 100 737 MAX aircraft, which many will be used to replace the aging 757s.

Mock up of what Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A321NEO will look like. Aircraft image from Airbus.

Mock up of what Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A321NEO will look like. Aircraft image from Airbus, edited by Brandon Farris.

The new Airbus A321neo and 737 9 MAX will change the narrow body long range family, as it takes over those routes the 757 currently serves.  This will also put more 757s on the market and possibly low cost carriers like Allegiant Air, might be able to add more 757s to their fleet and expand their ETOPs flights.

These aircraft and other new ones like it should replace those venerable 757s flying the sky at the moment.  It will be good for those flying on-board, as new aircraft means a better on-board experience, but for some like me, it will be a sad day to see fewer 757s take flight.  Seeing that ungainly long body of the 757-300, which looks like it shouldn’t exist on such a thin aircraft, is an amazing sight. When you step on-board, the single aisle looks like it will never end.  Hopefully these new aircraft can inspire similar thoughts amongst future generations of AvGeeks.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Photos: Hawaiian Airlines Orders Airbus A321neos

Mock up of what Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A321NEO will look like. Aircraft image from Airbus.

Mock up of what Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A321neo will look like. Aircraft image from Airbus. Can you tell where the background image was taken (it is a real photograph by Brandon Farris).

On Monday Hawaiian Airlines made a big announcement that it was ordering the Airbus A321neo to add to its expanding fleet.

The order is for 16 A321neo’s along with the rights to purchase up to nine more of the type. The carrier currently has 43 aircraft that is a mix of Boeing 767-300ER that it primarily uses on its west coast operations from the islands, the A330-200 used on international long haul ops and the Boeing 717 that it uses for inter-island hopping.

“Everyone at Hawaiian wants us to keep our position as the market leader in service quality, cost efficiency and choice of destinations. Ordering the A321neo will secure this legacy on routes to the U.S. West Coast beyond the middle of this decade,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “The A321neo will be the most fuel-efficient aircraft of its type after its introduction in 2016. With its slightly smaller size we’ll be able to open new markets that are not viable for wide-body service, while also being able to augment service on existing routes to the West Coast of North America.”

At 146-feet-long, the A321neo will seat approximately 190 passengers in a two-class configuration (First and Coach) and has a range of 3,650 nautical miles.  Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, however, the aircraft have a total list-price value of approximately $2.8 billion if all of the purchase rights are exercised.

The new acquisitions are also contingent upon Hawaiian signing new agreements with its pilots and flight attendant unions covering operation of the new aircraft type. If new agreements are reached, the fleet expansion is expected to generate roughly 1,000 additional jobs at the airline.

“This is a significant investment in the future of both Hawaiian and Hawaii. Our tourism-based economy and local employment will benefit as we continue our strategy of diversifying our business while improving the efficiency of our operation,” Dunkerley commented.

Expected range for the A321NEO from Hawaii.

This is the current range of the A321 from Hawaii. The A321NEO will add an additional 450 miles.

“We have come to think of Hawaiian Airlines as ‘ohana’ (family) and are very pleased to add yet another branch to our tree with this pending expansion of the Hawaiian Airbus fleet,” said John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, customers. “Hawaiian has gotten great results with their A330s.”

There is much speculation from analyst and fans where the aircraft will be flown, whether they will take over the current 767 west coast routes or lead to expansion for Hawaiian to operate to new west coast operations. By the time these aircraft join the fleet their 767’s will be around 18 to 20 years old for the leased ones and 30 years with the four that it purchased from Delta in 2005.

Other ideas are this purchase is to keep the A350 and A330-200s free to continue what has been a rather aggressive expansion from the quite airlines on the islands.

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr