Hawaiian Airlines Evacuates Its Fleet To Shelter From Impending Hurricane

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Hawaiian Airlines has just completed a mass repositioning of its aircraft. Most of its planes have moved to the US mainland, ahead of a devastating hurricane that is predicted to cause problems on the islands. Hurricane Douglas is bowling towards the island state and has been classed as a category two hurricane.

Hawaiian planes
Hawaiian Airlines has shifted most of its fleet away from Honolulu ahead of a storm. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Dodging the damage from Douglas

With wind speeds of up to 90 miles an hour, Hurricane Douglas is predicted to cause chaos in parts of Hawaii as it barrels across the Pacific Ocean. The National Hurricane Center was yesterday predicting dangerous surf, strong winds and enough rainfall to flood parts of the state.

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The good news is that, in the last couple of hours, the storm has changed course and looks to be skirting Hawaii. As such, the hurricane warning for Oahu has been canceled, although it is still in effect for Kauai County. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, Hawaiian Airlines has moved many of its aircraft to safer ground.

Airbus head to the US mainland

The airline’s A321 and A330 aircraft are the jets that usually operate Hawaiian’s routes to and from the mainland US as well as internationally. As such, they had plenty of range to make the trip to the mainland for safe storage while the storm passed.

All the airline’s Airbus aircraft are now on the West Coast of the US. The widebody A330s are spread across Los Angeles, Portland, Oakland and San Francisco. Some appear still to be at HNL but are likely to be safely stored inside hangars.

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Hawaiian Airlines
Some of Hawaiian’s planes are likely stored in its hangars. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Vice President of Flight Operations Bob Johnson told KITV4 that the hangars are capable of withstanding winds of up to 130 miles per hour. As Douglas was not predicted to be this strong, any aircraft left in Honolulu would be safe inside the shelters. But with not enough space to store all the aircraft, many have made the trip across the sea.

The A321s are stored also in Oakland and Portland, with a few in Sacramento too. Two appear to still be on the island.

What about the smaller jets?

As well as the 11 A321s and 16 A330s, Hawaiian has a fleet of 18 Boeing 717 aircraft that it uses on inter-island routes. These too needed to be stored out of harm’s way but weren’t as easy to accommodate.

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Hawaiian Airlines
The 717s could not fly to the mainland. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

The 717s do not have the range to fly to the mainland. As such, they have been moved from Honolulu to Kona to ride out the storm. Johnson told the island news publication,

“We were thinking of leaving our interisland fleet right here in O’ahu but that obviously has changed, Kona appears to be the area most protected from the storm. Kona’s got big runways, big taxiways and can hold a lot of airplanes so that factored into our decision.”

Johnson noted that this was the first time since 1992 that the airline had moved its planes off Oahu. Back then, a category four hurricane called Iniki forced the airline to shift its fleet away from the island.

For now, it looks like Hawaii will escape the worst of the storm. Either way, Hawaiian’s aircraft are safely stored until the storm has passed.

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