Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 Diverts To Midway After Inflight Issue

* Article updated 28/09/2021 07:48 UTC with comments from Hawaiian Airlines *

Earlier this week, a Honolulu-bound Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 had to divert to Midway following an inflight issue. In this instance, Midway refers to an atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, rather than Chicago’s second-largest airport. The flight had originated in Seoul, South Korea, before a low oil pressure indication forced it to divert.

Hawaiian A330
There were 67 passengers and 12 crew onboard the diverted flight. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The flight in question

Hawaiian Airlines flight HA460 is a regularly scheduled flight that originates at Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) in South Korea. According to data from RadarBox.com, it operates three times a week, on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

The service from Seoul crosses the international date line on its way back to Hawaiian‘s hub at Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Its scheduled departure time from Seoul is 21:25 local time. Arrival in Honolulu is set for 11:30 local time on the same day. This gives the flight a scheduled total duration of nine hours and five minutes.

Seoul-Honolulu is a competitive corridor. In fact, the South Korean capital was Honolulu’s third-busiest international destination in 2019. Alongside Hawaiian, three other airlines also offer scheduled passenger services on this route. These are Asiana, Jin Air, and Korean Air. Meanwhile, UPS has a monopoly on dedicated freight services on this route.

Hawaiian Airbus A330-200
Hawaiian sends its Airbus A330s to Seoul three times a week. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

What happened?

On September 24th, Hawaiian Airlines flight HA460 departed Seoul slightly early, at 21:23 local time. According to The Aviation Herald, it had 67 passengers and 12 crew members onboard. However, it was not able to land at its planned destination. One Mile At A Time reports that this was due to a low oil pressure indication, which forced the flight to divert.

Being situated over the middle of the Pacific Ocean, options were rather limited. However, Midway Atoll was just 110 NM away at the time. This atoll, which has just 40 permanent inhabitants, has a suitably long 2,337-meter runway at Henderson Field on Sand Island.

The flight made its unlikely arrival there at 08:41 local time. A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson explained to Simple Flying that Midway Atoll is “a designated diversion airport for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS).” The carrier added that it took the decision to divert there “out of an abundance of caution.”

Midway Atoll
The flight landed on runway 06 at Henderson Field on Sand Island, Midway Atoll. Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons

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A replacement aircraft

Midway Atoll is not somewhere that tourists can visit, following the closure of its tourism program in 2012. As such, the arrival of a commercial flight is unusual for the territory. Hawaiian dispatched a second aircraft to Midway Atoll, which eventually got the flight’s passengers back to Honolulu nine-and-a-half hours late at 20:42. The airline added:

We apologize for this inconvenience to our guests, who received travel credits, cash compensation, and were offered hotel accommodations in Honolulu. We sincerely appreciate the assistance of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the FAA, Defense Base Services, Inc., and other personnel in supporting our guests and operations at MDY.”

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330
Hawaiian’s fleet features 24 examples of the Airbus A330-200. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

The aircraft involved

RadarBox data suggests that Hawaiian Airlines always uses the Airbus A330-200 on its flights between Seoul and Honolulu. According to ch-aviation.com, it has 24 of these widebodies in its fleet. The aircraft that had to divert on Friday bore the registration N386HA. It is 9.48 years old, having been delivered to Hawaiian Airlines in April 2012.

The replacement A330 that flew out to meet the flight in Midway Atoll was registered as N381HA. This is a slightly older plane, clocking in at 11.43 years old. It had mechanics onboard, as well as a relief crew. This allowed the aircraft to return to Honolulu on September 25th following maintenance. It touched down there at 16:24 local time.

What do you make of this interesting diversion? Have you ever flown with Hawaiian Airlines on the Seoul-Honolulu route? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.