Hawaiian Airlines Is Ordering The Boeing 787-9

Filed Under: Hawaiian

There have been rumors of this happening for a while, though it’s finally official as of today — Hawaiian Airlines signed a letter of intent for the purchase of 10 Boeing 787-9s, with an option for an additional 10 aircraft. Assuming all goes to plan, the airline intends to take delivery of their first Dreamliner in the first quarter of 2021.

Hawaiian Airlines says that this plane will be the ideal choice for Hawaiian’s longhaul Asia/Pacific and North America routes. Interestingly there’s no mention of the possibility of Hawaiian launching flights to Europe, which has been rumored for a while, and would certainly be within range for the plane. Here’s what Hawaiian’s President & CEO had to say about the order:

“The Dreamliner combines excellent comfort for our guests with fantastic operational performance and will allow us to continue modernizing our fleet into the next decade. It has more seating capacity than Hawaiian’s current wide-body fleet, which will allow us to further build upon our successful growth in Asia.”

Hawaiian presently operates a mainline fleet of 54 aircraft, including 24 A330-200s, eight Boeing 767s, two A321neos (they have another 14 of those on order, which will be delivered through 2020), and 20 717s. The 787 will be by far their longest range and most fuel efficient aircraft, though chances are that they won’t actually take full advantage of the range, unless those rumored flights to Europe happened.

Hawaiian considering the 787 is only a recent development. The airline had A330-800neos on order, though ended up canceling that order, leaving that aircraft type with no customers. It then looked like the airline would decide between Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A330-900neos, and the 787 won out.

The airline hopes to finalize their purchase agreement in the second quarter. Before the board of directors approves the purchase, one of the things the airline still has to work out is a contract with their unions (the Air Line Pilots Association and Association of Flight Attendant), as the aircraft isn’t presently included in their contracts.

I’m also curious to see what kind of an onboard product Hawaiian chooses for their new 787s. Hawaiian is in the process of installing flat beds on their A330s, though it’s not the most private product. Then again, with many people traveling to/from Hawaii being couples, it makes sense that they’d choose a 2-2-2 configuration.

What do you make of Hawaiian’s Boeing 787 order?

  1. I mean I guess most of the A330’s are leased right, the one I Flew HNL-HND last week was just over 1 year old, so I guess they will return them and take the 787.

    It still amazes me all the long haul routes they fly.

  2. I can see Chicago but not for the 789. As Lucky notes, too much capability left on the table, for an expensive airplane.

    Seeing as its 3 years away and they just did the deal, I can see why they’re saving the fanfare for later. But this plane has HNL-LHR written all over it.

  3. HNL-JFK could be a candidate for the 787 to replace the A332 and perhaps one additional mainland US route in the Midwest or the East Coast (BOS comes to mind, given B6’s presence there) thus freeing up a few A332s for more capacity to the West Coast markets. Perhaps Australia / New Zealand markets ex-HNL and potentially, a route to Europe, which could be LHR or LGW if they cannot get a LHR slot.

  4. Absent other airlines, like the legacy US airlines abandoning Hawaii (hard to imagine), I don’t know how much more capacity the islands can have. Oahu is a dump, except for the North Shore. There is no longer ANY space for hotels on the waterfront in Waikiki. Between the tourists and the homeless — Hawaii has the worst homeless problem in the United States — the beaches are overcrowded. Other islands have restrictive zoning and planning laws. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times in the past year. It’s a pain in the butt because it’s basically 12-14 hours to get there from the East Coast. There are a lot of other places within 14 hours, maybe 16 hours, that I could go that are nicer and cost less money.

  5. @When I Travel: Most of the A330 fleet is outright owned by Hawaiian, but a small handful are leased. If the plane was only a year old, it was probably purchased, since Hawaiian’s leased A330s were acquired in 2010 and 2011, while the most recent A330s are purchases.

    This really seems to be an almost explosive expansion, given that the A321s are meant to replace the 767s on shorter routes to the US mainland, leaving the significantly enlarged A330 fleet and now the incoming 787 fleet to focus solely on distant destinations.

    I expect there may be further expansion into China in the coming years, since Hawaii’s tourism industry has been leaning more heavily on Chinese tourists to help sustain growth given that the Japanese tourist market has leveled off.

  6. The burning question is what to replace the 717 with? It definitely is time!

    Will the Trump rant against Canada eliminate the C300 or will sanity reign?

    Do Americans see Brazil as a friend and Canada as an enemy?

    Perhaps it’s time to shut off the oil and water?

  7. I know a lot are talking about how much more desire can there really be for the islands, but, I can see Hawaiian pulling off some discounted LHR to Asia routes with a stop in HNL. Perhaps there is a long term growth plan in that direction? Surely there isn’t much more growth just for the leisure market.

  8. @SFO-FF, I can’t see how going to Asia via HNL makes sense. The distances are almost always much further than a direct flight. The only route that comes close is LHR-HNL-AKL which is probably shorter than many other routes to NZ (except maybe through Tokyo).

  9. I would love to see any airline fly from HNL direct to Perth, maybe this plane could do the job?-
    The flight could operate a few times weekly or seasonally, and I believe would put Perth even further onto the world map. The PER-LHR qantas dreamliner route, the possible norwegian airlines flight from Perth to Buenos Aires, and this would mean direct flights to every inhabited continent from Western Australia.

  10. Ordering the 789 on the heels of WN starting Hawaii and potentially trashing the pricing of most markets across the US might be something they regret. 789 economics look good when you model fares from ORD and NYC today, but WN could make it much cheaper with their entry and connectivity to the rest of the country

  11. @SFO FF, that would be a very, very long way to get to Asia, I can’t see any leisure or business travellers opting into that route to get to East or SE Asia from LHR when the ME3, SE Asian carriers European carriers and even Aeroflot all compete with faster routings out of LHR.

  12. London to Honolulu is about 7200 miles, about the same as Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Definitely not ‘that far’ when you think about it. I think the demand is there, given a lot of people in the Honolulu metro area would probably like to visit Europe, and Europeans are always looking for a warm place to skip over to in the winter.

  13. Hong Kong to HNL.
    Cathay Pacific won’t operate this route because Hawaii is not a business destination. But there are real demands.

  14. The real question: Will Hawaiian still be an airline in its own right by 2021 or will someone else buy them? Alaska and Hawaiian would be a nice stitch-up.

  15. @Abe

    Economics, sufficient production period to mitigate initial problems and better expectation for on time delivery given the larger production capacity for the 787.

  16. I am so happy that Hawaiian is getting 787s. I have also dreamed about seeing their business class product on a 787 Dreamliner. I hope they have a new route to hometown Chicago using the new plane.

  17. They could do other cities on the East Coast such as DC, Miami that maybe out of range for the 330s or would entail payload restrictions. NYC would definitely be far more efficiently served with a 787. The 787s though may be slightly overspeced for their Japanese operations so they maybe better off launching Hong Kong which they can use a hub to get traffic from SEA destinations.

  18. Would love to see them open up SIN-HNL flights. Scoot is testing the waters via KIX but I definitely think a non-stop flight could be supported here.

    My guess is cities in China will primarily be opened such as CTU, CKG, and some others that have significant demand that are not served at present.

    Europe is also guaranteed I think; the 787-9 is the aircraft that can do the mission cost effectively. 3x weekly London flights are probably just around the corner.

  19. Hawaiian can use the Icelandair model, what would you rather do flying from UK to Australia/ NZ, fly over Ukraine or stopover in Hawaii? ORD and EWR are already within range of the A330s, and Southwests MAX8 one stop on the west coast undercuts the 787s cost, given that leisure travelers are so cost sensitive.

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