Hawaiian Airlines plans further expansion in Asia Pacific

Hawaiian Airlines intends to expand its network in Asia Pacific using A330s that will be freed up as new A321neos take over some of its routes to the US mainland.

Hawaiian’s long-haul network currently consists of nine destinations, including three in Australasia and six in North Asia. Sydney became Hawaiian’s very first long haul destination in 2004. The airline added Brisbane in 2012 and Auckland in 2013. It has since maintained a network of three destinations in Australasia.

Hawaiian serves Sydney daily most of the year with a slight reduction to six weekly flights during the off-peak months of February and March. Auckland and Brisbane are served with three weekly flights each.

In 2016 Hawaiian, carried 238,000 passengers to and from Australia, representing a 1.5% reduction compared to 2015, with an average load factor of 74%. Hawaiian’s Australia capacity has been relatively flat since Brisbane was launched in late 2012. Hawaiian’s Australia capacity also increased in late 2011 as Sydney was upgraded from five weekly flights to daily.

Hawaiian Airlines weekly one-way seat capacity to Australia: Oct-2013 to Feb-2018

Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation & OAG

Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley told Blue Swan TV on the sidelines of the 1-Aug-2017 CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney that Brisbane and Sydney “have been two very successful markets for us”. Mr Dunkerley is one of the longest serving airline CEOs in the industry and has led Hawaiian’s push into Asia since the expansion began with Sydney in 2004.

Australia has a very special place in our hearts and in the history of Hawaiian Airlines,” Mr Dunkerley said. “This was the place where we first started our Asia expansion, rather tentatively, 13 years ago. It took a while to get ahead of steam. We are now operating throughout Asia. All throughout we have been serving Sydney.”

Mr Dunkerley said Hawaiian intends to further expand its network in Asia Pacific using widebody aircraft which are now used to operate flights to the mainland US but will be replaced with A321neos from 2018.

In Australia, for several years Hawaiian has been looking at potentially launching the Melbourne-Honolulu route, which is now only served by Jetstar Airways. Hawaiian is not shy about competing against Jetstar as Jetstar already competes on Sydney-Honolulu and competed on Brisbane-Honolulu from Dec-2014 to Oct-2016, when it withdrew – again leaving Hawaiian as the only nonstop competitor. Jetstar’s full service parent Qantas also operates the Sydney-Honolulu route.

Mr Dunkerley would not discuss specific new long-haul destinations. However, he said “all the big cities around the Pacific Rim are on our list”.

Hawaiian has 18 A321neos on order, according to the CAPA Fleet Database. Mr Dunkerley said the first A321neo is expected to be delivered in Oct-2017 and placed into service in Jan-2018. He said Hawaiian intends to mainly use the A321neos to operate routes to the west coast of the US from the island of Hawaii as well as Maui and Kauai.

Hawaiian currently only operates widebody aircraft (767-300s and A330-200s) on its mainland US routes. Hawaiian will continue to operate widebody aircraft from its hub in Honolulu on Oahu to the mainland US while A321neos are used to take over mainland US routes from other islands. “The A321neo has the best range and capacity characteristics for Hawaii to the west coast, particularly from the neighbour islands – from Maui, from the big island of Hawaii and from Kauai as well,” Mr Dunkerley said.

Hawaiian intends to phase out its 767 fleet by the end of 2018 but is expanding its A330 fleet with additional A330-200s and new A330-800neos. Hawaiian currently uses a mix of A330s and 767s from Kauai and Maui while only A330s are used from Honolulu and Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Some of the A330s now used from Kona, Kauai and Maui will be moved to Honolulu as A321neos are delivered, enabling Hawaiian to expand its long-haul network in Asia Pacific.