The recently deepened relationship between Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Tech Ops could be a bellwether as the carrier eyes aftermarket options for its Airbus A330s and Boeing 717s amid a broader effort to streamline its vendor base.
Hawaiian and Tech Ops earlier this month announced that the maintenance, repair, and overhaul ( MRO ) provider would add component repair to the 767 fleet support it already provides the Honolulu-based carrier.
“We were paying to have access to Delta’s 767 inventory, but then for repairs, we were shipping parts out to [various MRO shops],” Hawaiian VP-Strategic Procurement Tom Wessner tells Aviation Week. “Now we just put [a part] in a box and ship it to Delta.”
Tech Ops, through its “Complete Fleet Services (CFS)” offering, has supported Hawaiian’s A330 maintenance needs since the carrier put its first Airbus widebody twin in service almost exactly four years ago. The deal includes setting up line stations at every Hawaiian A330 destination – the latest of which is Beijing, which launched April 16.
So far, Hawaiian’s A330 aftermarket needs have been limited to light maintenance and non-routine services, such as installing fuel inerting systems to meet an FAA mandate. Tech Ops has handled them all, and is well-positioned to tackle the next big item on Hawaiian’s list: A330 heavy maintenance.
Hawaiian operates 17 A330s and has five more on order, including three slated for delivery this year. Its first five went into service in 2010 and early 2011, meaning their first 72-month-interval heavy checks are on the horizon.
“Now that we’re coming around to our first C checks, who is in the best position to serve us?” Wessner says. Tech Ops, which knows Hawaiian’s A330s and supports Delta’s growing fleet, is a logical choice. “We haven’t committed to a long-term deal, but that’s a potential synergy,” Wessner acknowledges.
Using an existing vendor fits into Wessner’s larger mission of simplifying, and by extension improving, Hawaiian ’s purchasing process. Hired three years ago as the carrier’s first procurement czar, Wessner’s focus is centralizing purchasing to boost the carrier’s bottom line without causing his “internal” customers to suffer.
While tapping Tech Ops for more MRO work fits into the strategy, Wessner stresses that the Atlanta-based provider is a lock.
Hawaiian’s expanding Asian network also regularly puts A330s on the doorstep of several MRO providers. The Tech Ops CFS agreement indirectly connects Hawaiian with Ameco in Beijing, which will provide line maintenance services to Hawaiian as a Delta subcontractor.
Wessner notes that the predicted trend of offshored widebody maintenance shifting back to the U.S. isn’t likely to influence Hawaiian’s decision making.
“We’re still in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so in terms of distance, it almost doesn’t matter where we go,” he says.
Hawaiian’s 18 717s are maintained internally and, for heavy work, by AAR . Now that Delta has its own growing 717 fleet and in-house support capability, Wessner says Hawaiian could look at potential synergies – particularly ones that lighten Hawaiian’s load.
“We have all the  parts that we need in our warehouse,” Wessner notes. “I wouldn’t mind getting some of that inventory out of my warehouse, and Delta” – in line to operate 88 of the 153 still in service thanks to its deal to acquire the former AirTran aircraft – “may not mind taking on some of it.”