January 29, 2013 Hawaiian Airlines positioning to run A321’s on their west coast routes
Hawaii in recent years has seen a boom in flights from west coast secondary markets. This has largely been the result of Alaska Airlines aggressive 737 expansion from California cities. Allegiant Air followed with 757 service from even smaller airports. As a result of this expansion United Airlines downsized their service.
Now it looks like Hawaiian Airlines is set to revamp their west coast service. Hawaiian famous for free meals and wide-body 767/A330 service yesterday inked a deal with their ALPA narrow-body union to allow for narrow-body service to the west coast. This complements the deal with Airbus for 16 new A321s set to be delivered starting in 2017.
While this deal sets the stage for Hawaiian to change their west coast operation it has the potential to change their entire narrow body operation. Currently Hawaiian operates 18 717/MD-95’s on their Intra-Hawaiian shuttle flights. Boeing inherited this aircraft from merger partner McDonnell Douglas. Because of a lack of commonality with other Boeing product lines and lack of popularity, the 717 program was quickly canceled.
Now, Hawaiian had the opportunity to buy 737’s which currently have the range to make the west coast to Hawaii run or buy the 737Max but they did not. By choosing the Airbus A321 it sends a signal that when they decide to replace their 717s they will do so probably with A319s/A320’s because they will share a type certification with the A321 and will have a large number of common parts. This will allow Hawaiian to lower its fixed costs in the same way Southwest Airlines does by only using the 737.