Hawaiian Airlines said its fleet refresh is making good progress despite AirbusA321neo delivery delays earlier this year, and the carrier is already looking to the next stage when its Boeing 787 deliveries begin in 2021.
The airline’s fleet transition plan is “well underway,” CEO Peter Ingram said during Hawaiian’s annual investor day on Dec. 11. The carrier has now taken delivery of 11 of its 18 A321neo orders, with six more due next year, and one in 2020.
At the same time, Hawaiian is “winding down” its Boeing 767 operations, Ingram said. The airline’s final 767 flight is expected to occur in “very early” January 2019.
The airline views the A321neo as “an important competitive weapon for us going forward,” Ingram said. As well as allowing it to retire the 767s, the Neos are being used to open new secondary routes to the U.S. mainland and replace A330s on routes where smaller aircraft are more viable.
Hawaiian calculates the A321neos have 23% lower operating costs compared to the 767s, due to better fuel efficiency and lower regular maintenance costs. This estimate does not include the reduced heavy maintenance spending required for the new single-aisle aircraft compared to the widebodies.
After the last of the 767s are retired, all of Hawaiian’s jet fleet will have relatively new cabin products. The fleet will consist of either new deliveries, or aircraft that have been reconfigured since 2015, Ingram said.
The carrier ordered 10 Boeing 787-9s earlier this year, with purchase rights for another 10. According to the airline’s investor presentation, it is due to receive two 787s in 2021, three in 2022, and one in 2023, with the remainder arriving later. This type represents “the flagship aircraft of our future,” Ingram said.
The 787s can be either used for growth or fleet replacement, said Hawaiian CFO Shannon Okinaka. As the 787s are delivered and A330 leases expire, the carrier can either choose to extend leases or return the A330s to lessors. Three A330 leases are due to expire in 2020, and another in 2022.
Separately, Hawaiian executives said the airline is hoping for a speedy resolution to contract talks with its flight attendants next year. The two parties are still in negotiations overseen by federal mediators. Aside from the flight attendants, all of the other labor contracts are settled through at least 2020, Okinaka said.