Hawaiian sees benefit from lower capital costs of A330neo

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Hawaiian Airlines chief commercial officer Peter Ingram sees “real benefit” from the lower capital costs of the Airbus A330-800neo over the next generation of widebodies offer by Airbus and Boeing.

“For a smaller capital cost increment than the [Airbus] A350s or the [Boeing] 787s, you get a good size chunk of the operating efficiencies in terms of fuel costs primarily and engine costs to a lesser extent,” he says on the sidelines of the Boyd Group International Aviation Summit in Las Vegas today.

Honolulu-based Hawaiian committed to six firm A330-800neos and six purchase rights for the aircraft in July, replacing its order for up to 12 A350-800s. The deal is valued at $2.9 billion, or about $242 million per aircraft, at list prices.

At the time, the carrier’s chief executive Mark Dunkerley cited the A330neo’s fuel efficiency, additional range and commonality with its existing fleet of A330-200s for its decision to order the type.

Compared to the current generation aircraft, the A330-800neo will be able to fly 400nm further with a range of 7,450nm and will burn about 14% less fuel per seat using Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines.

Ingram says that it is too early to know specifics on how much of Asia the additional range will open up for Hawaiian. However, he adds that the range benefits could increase when the aircraft design is finalised in 2015.

Airbus plans to deliver the first A330-800neo in early 2018, with Hawaiian taking its first aircraft in 2019.

Hawaiian continues to see growth potential in mainland China. There are 40 to 50 cities with populations over a million people and a rapidly growing middle class that could potentially be destinations for the airline in the future, says Ingram.

The carrier launched three-times weekly service to Beijing in April, its first service to the country. Further growth will depend on the performance of the route as well as the range limitations of the A330-200 – an issue that will be rectified by the addition the A330neo.

Beijing load factors and yields are slightly lower than Hawaiian initially targeted, says Ingram. However, he says that this is expected for new routes and that there is no talk of discontinuing the service.