The Airbus A321LR For Hawaiian – How Could The Carrier Benefit?

Hawaiian Airlines has 18 Airbus A321neo aircraft within its fleet. Though a great aircraft for serving many routes to the West Coast of the United States, the aircraft does have its limitations. As Hawaiian shows it is willing to add new long-haul flights and is able to make those routes work, the potential for the Airbus A321LR is great for Hawaiian.

Airbus A321neo
Hawaiian could benefit from a fleet of Airbus A321LR. Photo: Airbus

Where could Hawaiian fly with the Airbus A321LR

Airbus advertises the range of the A321LR as 4,000 nautical miles with around 206 passengers. Hawaiian would, almost certainly, fly its jets with fewer than that number of passengers. Taking that 4,000 nautical mile range, there are plenty of options for the carrier out of its base in Honolulu.

Hawaiian Airbus A321LR range
The range of the Airbus A321LR out of Honolulu. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

The Airbus A321LR has an extensive range that puts much of the US in range. Several new cities could easily join Hawaiian’s route map as a result of the Airbus A321LR.

Airports like Salt Lake City and Denver could be a natural extension of the airline’s existing route map. Both of these airports are hubs for some of Hawaiian’s competitors with nonstop routes to Honolulu, so coming in with an Airbus A321LR would not be too much extra capacity, nor would it come at too high of a cost.

Hawaiian targets more origin and destination passengers who are going from where they originate to Hawaii and back. In comparison, the competitors with hubs in Salt Lake City and Denver are more about targeting connecting traffic, so those routes get widebody service. Another option in a similar vein could be Dallas.

Hawaiian A321neo
The Airbus A321neo and A321LR have some commonalities that will allow the airline to take on some additional long-haul aircraft without increasing efficiencies. Photo: Airbus

The next options for Hawaiian are natural extensions into smaller, secondary markets. To the West Coast, Maui gets plenty of Airbus A321neo service.

Maui, which is not too far from Honolulu, could easily get Airbus A321XLR service nonstop to cities like Dallas, Houston, or Denver. Maui would also be ripe for narrowbody long-haul service to Chicago, which would be at the upper end of the range for the Airbus A321LR. Hawaiian just recently revealed plans to fly to Phoenix from Maui with an Airbus A321neo.

A321neo
Hawaiian is already planning to put the Airbus A321neo into service from Maui to Phoenix, so more flights out of Maui with an A321LR could certainly be a possibility. Photo: Airbus

Looking to Asia, the A321LR would really only work for routes to Japan. Hawaiian already serves four major cities in Japan, so much of that market is maxed out for the carrier. However, Maui does not have Asian service, so the A321LR could be used to run a flight to a city like Tokyo, perhaps a few times a week to ensure there is not too much capacity.

Another option would be to use some A321LRs to give new services from places like Kona, where there is also a significant demand for leisure travel, but from where Hawaiian does not currently offer extensive mainland US services.

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The case for an A321LR order

Hawaiian Airlines has options to take nine additional Airbus A321neo aircraft. Airbus, which would certainly be excited about getting a new order, could work with Hawaiian to convert those purchase rights to firm Airbus A321LR orders.

It is not unprecedented for airlines to turn options on the A321neo into orders for the long-haul jets. When American Airlines ordered its Airbus A321XLR aircraft, the carrier converted some of its options for A321neo aircraft to A321XLR orders.

Hawaiian A321neo
Hawaiian has purchase rights for nine Airbus A321neo aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Taking nine A321LR aircraft would not be too much of a risk for the airline. Nine of these jets could easily be deployed across Hawaiian’s network. When it does not need the jet’s long-haul capabilities, it could put them on its intra-island services.

Hawaiian loves its Airbus A321neos

The Airbus A321neos are perfect for the airline’s fleet. In fact, its CEO even considers the jets like a “Swiss Army Knife.” The plane can do routes long and short, so extending its A321neo fleet to include the A321LR would be a natural extension of the carrier’s fleet. The added commonality between the two jets would be a plus for preserving efficiencies.

Airbus A321neo
Hawaiian seats 189 passengers on its Airbus A321neo aircraft, but it would likely have to put some different premium products on an A321LR. Photo: Airbus

Of course, Hawaiian has not yet announced an order for the Airbus A321LR, and the jury is still out on whether the carrier will add the aircraft to its fleet. It might be waiting for a better revenue environment to come around, so it has the cash to pay for the new aircraft.

Do you think Hawaiian should order the Airbus A321LR? Let us know in the comments!

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