A Dead Program: Hawaiian Cancels A330-800 Order, Switches to 787-9 Instead

March 7, 2018

 Artist's rendering of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in Hawaiian Airlines' Livery. Courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines. 


Hawaiian Airlines announced Tuesday that it had signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Boeing for 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with options for 10 more of the aircraft. This move comes after weeks of speculation that Hawaiian was going to be cancelling its Airbus A330-800 order and switch to the Boeing 787-9, after a rumor was posted on Leeham News & Content. Hawaiian is currently expected to take the first of the highly fuel-efficient jets starting in 2021. 


Airbus canceled the development of the A350-800, the smallest variant of the A350 XWB family, back in 2014, due to low demand for this aircraft. Airbus' CEO Fabrice Brégier believed that all existing customers will either "switch to the A350-900 or A330neo," and Hawaiian Airlines was certainly no exception. They originally ordered the smallest A350 variant to fly nonstop to Europe as well as other far-reaching Asian destinations from their home base in Honolulu, but was forced to order 6 A330-800s in place of the A350-800. 


Hawaiian Airlines is a siginficant Airbus customer in the United States. They currently operate a fleet of 24 Airbus A330-200 aircraft for their longhaul needs, and are currently taking delivery of a batch of Airbus A321neo narrowbody aircraft for routes to the U.S. West Coast. Due to the range limitations of the A330-200, Hawaiian is unable to expand beyond New York in the Western Hemisphere, or East Asia in the Eastern Hemisphere. At the time of the order, Hawaiian management touted the A330-800 as "an elegant solution," due to its fuel efficiency and commonality with current A330s. 


The A330-800, while slightly smaller than the 787-9, was actually not really in favor at Hawaiian, as they much preferred the A350 due to the fact that it had much more payload and range compared to the smaller A330. Hawaiian was not interested in switching to other variants of the A350, such as the A350-900, because it had too much capacity, meaning that it would be hard for Hawaiian to fill up these aircraft. Hawaiian was the only customer for the A330-800 variant of the aircraft. Now, the program currently has no orders, despite there being two aircraft in the test campaign at this moment. 

As the first aircraft to be primarily constructed using carbon fiber, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner possesses many passenger-friendly features such as large windows with electronic dimming, a much quieter cabin, as well as larger overhead luggage bins. In order, its carbon fiber construction makes the aircraft much lighter than competitors; its fuel-efficient General Electric GEnX engines, selected by Hawaiian, also offer an improved fuel economy over the A330neo. 


Upon announcing the order, Hawaiian Airlines' CEO Peter Ingram stated that "the Dreamliner combines excellent comfort for our guests with fantastic operational performance and will allow us to continue modernizing our fleet into the next decade." Furthermore, "it has more seating capacity than Hawaiian’s current wide-body fleet, which will allow us to further build upon our successful growth in Asia."


Are you excited to be flying on Hawaiian's new 787-9 soon? 

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