Passengers used to traveling on the widebody 767 on Hawaiian Airlines' routes to the U.S. West Coast and throughout Asia and Australia will see an upgrade soon. Previously announced plans to retire the older Boeing (NYSE: BA) aircraft and replace them with newer Airbus models are falling into place faster than expected.
Specifically, the Hawaiian Holdings' (NASDAQ: HA) subsidiary said it would purchase another Airbus A330-200 and lease two additional A231neos. The new jets will allow the carrier to ferry existing loads more efficiently while also supporting what the airline describes as "measured, sustainable" growth on routes that had been served by its Boeing fleet.
"The addition of these three aircraft provide for low- to mid-single-digit capacity growth over the remainder of the decade," said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines, said in a press release.
Efficiency is key for Hawaiian Airlines. In the third quarter, fuel accounted for 19% of operating expenses -- down from 22% a year before, but up materially from just 15% at the end of the first quarter. It's ability to figure out ways to earn more per gallon consumed is central to the investment thesis for the company, which explains the rush to upgrade its aging transcontinental fleet.
For Boeing, Hawaiian's decision is a disappointment, but also a non-event. Several carriers are winding down their use of the 767, including American Airlines and Australia's Qantas. The difference with those carriers is that they're also buyers of the 787 Dreamliner, which Boeing is hawking as a hyper-efficient option for transcontinental trips. In October, Qatar Airways confirmed plans to purchase 30 of Boeing's state-of-the-art 787-9 aircraft in a multifaceted deal that could be worth over $18 billion. The 767 isn't central to Boeing's growth plans anymore. Soon, it's effect on Hawaiian will be just as muted.
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