ANALYSIS: Hawaiian takes lead to the islands as others contract

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Hawaiian Airlines’ rapid expansion in recent years has come as other carriers have slashed capacity to the Hawaiian Islands, allowing the Honolulu-based carrier to capture more market share to the US mainland.

In 2014, Hawaiian’s share of available seats to the mainland from the Hawaii’s four primary airports — Honolulu International, Kona International, Lihue airport and Kahului airport — will reach 26%, according to Innovata data.

In 2014, Hawaiian has added new routes or additional frequencies from Hawaii to places like Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.

Only United Airlines will carry more seats between the islands and the mainland in 2014, with 27% marketshare, data shows.

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Market share based on available seats from four top Hawaii airports to US mainland airports. Source: Innovata.

By comparison, Hawaiian’s market share was less than 22% in 2010 and just 15% in 2005. That year, United, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines each carried more seats between the islands and the mainland than Hawaiian.

The carrier’s gains have been realised following four years of expansion, during which Hawaiian has acquired 18 new 294-seat Airbus A330-200 widebodies.

In addition to bolstering Hawaiian’s Boeing 767 flights to the US coast, the airline has used the A330s to launch a slew of flights westward across the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaiian now serves seven destinations in Asia, two in Australia, and Auckland in New Zealand. By comparison, in 2010 Hawaiian’s only destinations in the region included Manila and Sydney.

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Source: Innovata, Hawaiian Airlines and flight schedules.

The westward expansion is part of a plan by Hawaiian to make Honolulu a desirable hub for passengers travelling between the USA and Asia, Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s chief commercial officer, told Flightglobal last year.

The new flights and aircraft have helped Hawaiian’s capacity, measured in available seats, climb to 12.7 million in 2014, according to Innovata.

That is roughly 5% higher than in 2013, but more than 50% higher than in 2007, the year US air capacity began a multi-year slide precipitated by recession.

All major US airlines have cut capacity since 2007, including merger partners American/US Airways, Delta/Northwest Airlines, United/Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines/AirTran Airways, Innovata data shows.

Only low-cost operators like Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways have added capacity since 2007, according to Innovata.

Hawaiian’s growth may be poised to continue, with the airline scheduled to take delivery of six new A330-800neos in the coming years. The airline says the aircraft will generate “double digit” trip cost reductions compared to A330-200s.

In addition, Hawaiian has orders to receive 16 190-seat A321s through 2020. Those aircraft, according to Hawaiian, will be use to serve “thinner” routes along the US west coast.

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