Hawaiian Airlines Sets Its Eyes on Flights to Europe, A380

Sep 23, 2016

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Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley spoke this week about the carrier’s plans for initiating flights to Europe. There’s just one problem: The airline doesn’t have any aircraft that can reach the continent. And, based on the current Airbus delivery schedule, it’s going to be a while before it does.

Dunkerley is hoping that the Airbus A330-800neos on order will provide enough range for the Hawaiian to start flying directly to Europe. But, it’s going to depend on “what our final seating configuration is and therefore the weight of the Neo and its exact performance and statistics when it’s actually built.”

That’s right, the aircraft he hopes to use between Hawaii with Europe aren’t even built yet. Airbus’ delivery of the first A330neo isn’t expected until late 2017, but Hawaiian isn’t even on the top of Airbus’ customer list. Based on the current production schedule, Hawaiian isn’t going to see delivery of its first A330-800neo aircraft until at least 2019.

Hawaiian Air CEO Mark Dunkerley pictured in the new A330 business-class cabin.

If Hawaiian is truly interested in flying to Europe, its decision back in 2014 to swap A350-800 orders for the A330-800neo was the wrong move. The A330-800neo would likely need weight restrictions to comfortably reach many destinations in Europe. It’d be interesting to see if weight limitations would still allow Hawaiian to use its redesigned business class on the new aircraft — or whether it’d have to use a lighter version. The A350-800’s additional 700-mile range would open more options to Europe.

At the same time, other airlines are looking to launch nonstop flights between Europe and Hawaii — wisely using aircraft already in service. News also broke Wednesday that Edelweiss Air is looking to launch nonstop flights from Zurich (ZRH) to Honolulu (HNL) using its newly acquired A340s.

Could Hawaiian start using a used Airbus A380 to ferry passengers on high-traffic routes?
Could Hawaiian start operating a used Airbus A380 to ferry passengers on high-traffic routes?

Wednesday’s interview also revealed that Hawaiian is considering additional types of aircraft on other markets — particularly the Airbus A380. As quoted in Bloomberg on Wednesday:

Dunkerley, 52, said the airline is looking seriously at whether the Airbus A380 might have a role to play within its network, especially on routes such as those from Honolulu to Los Angeles, Tokyo and Las Vegas, which it serves with smaller wide-body planes six, three and two times daily respectively.

With Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines phasing out older A380s, there seems to be a forthcoming glut of used A380s coming onto the market. Hawaiian Airlines might be able to capitalize on picking up some A380s for cheap. This would allow it to substantially increase its available seats on some of its most popular markets.

However — as aviation guru Jason Rabinowitz points out — the A380 would be somewhat absurd of a choice for Hawaiian in practice. It’s a massive aircraft that would be challenging for the airline to fill on any route. If Hawaiian is looking to shake up its fleet, a better option would be the 777-300ER or the 777-200LR. These aircraft would give Hawaiian Airlines the range to reach Europe while having a much more obtainable capacity.

H/T: One Mile At A Time

Featured image courtesy of Airbus.

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