Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley believes no other aircraft rivals the operation of the Boeing 717 used on the carrier's inter-island flights.

After the demise of Aloha Airlines in April of 2008 Hawaiian stepped in quickly to fill some of Aloha's capacity in the inter-island market, at one point using its spare 767 aircraft on the 18-minute hops.

Eventually Hawaiian sourced four additional 717s, and now operates 15 of the aircraft in its inter-island network.

Dunkerley says the 717 is ideally suited for the high-frequency, short flights Hawaiian performs in the islands, telling attendees at the carrier's investor day that few of those markets exist. That is probably one factor the out-of-production aircraft was not a successful seller, he notes.

Continuing in his high regard for the aircraft, Dunkerley say if Hawaiian had to "re-spec" an aircraft for inter-island operations it would be the 717, calling it an "absolutely terrific airplane for what we want to do".

Dunkerley equally praises Boeing rival Airbus, joking that the A350 could allow Hawaiian do to "ludicrous things like Honolulu to Europe nonstop". He says that in no way is a suggestion for a new route in the carrier's offing. Hawaiian has a firm order for six A350-800s, with deliveries scheduled to start in 2017.

Overall Hawaiian's capacity for 2009 is remaining relatively flat as the economic climate remains uncertain. The carrier could see a slight shrinkage of its growth in the September time frame as 767s are sequentially pulled for installation of blended winglets.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news