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IATA: Hawaiian capacity to stay flat ahead of A321neo arrival

Hawaiian Airlines is maintaining its plan of roughly flat capacity until it takes delivery of its first Airbus A321neo in 2017, says chief executive Mark Dunkerley.

This is driven by the fact that the Honolulu-based carrier will have a relatively flat fleet count during the period as it takes delivery of its final Airbus A330-200 later this year to replace outgoing Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

Speaking on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Miami, Dunkerley says Hawaiian has the ability to change its fleet count “in and around the margin” – likely meaning it can extend the leases on some 767s if it sees demand too – before the A321neos begin arriving in two years time.

Hawaiian’s network is performing “nicely” even as it makes small tweaks, for example discontinuing service to Sendai this September, says Dunkerley. Capacity to Japan will remain flat as it will simply drop the Sendai tag from its existing Sapporo flight.

The airline’s newest destination Beijing continues to develop. While happy with the market’s performance since service began in April 2014, Dunkerley says Hawaiian faces challenges with distribution in the country and continues to look for the right partners who can deliver the volume of sales in the country.

“China continues to grow [and] the level of awareness of overseas destinations is improving all the time,” he says. “All these things are helpful and all these things are moving in the same direction.”

Hawaiian still has a list of 10 to 12 destinations it is interested in adding. While the flat fleet count limits its ability to grow during the next two years, tweaks to its fleet plan could allow for a new destination or two.

Canada is a country that has long been of interest to the carrier, confirms Dunkerley. However, it does not have any immediate plans to begin service in the near future even as Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet will enter the market with its new fleet of used Boeing 767-300ERs this December.

“We always have a list of 10 to 12 cities that are potentially new routes for us and what floats to the top of the list varies over time [due to] things like the competitive dynamics in the marketplace, exchange rates and things like that,” he says. “Canadian cities are on that list, so far they have just not bubbled to the top of the list.”

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