Hawaiian Airlines has been in Austin, Texas for about a month now and in Orlando, Florida for over two. Austin is the airline’s only point in Texas, while Orlando is the only city the airline serves in Florida. The two cities are part of the carrier’s long-haul US mainland expansion. According to CEO Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines’ newest long-haul routes are now performing very well and are comparable to the airline’s Boston and New York services.
Austin and Orlando are performing well
Speaking at the Wolfe Research Global Transportation & Industrials Conference, CEO Peter Ingram discussed the two new long-haul services. He stated the following on their performances:
“Austin and Orlando are both new routes and different from the Ontario and Long Beach, or Maui that we added on the west coast. [They] are in regions of the country where we are not a known brand where we haven’t operated service before. I think we’ve been able to build awareness fairly quickly.
“The load factors are now comparable to what we see on our New York and Boston flights that have been established for a while, which are the benchmarks we’re using internally.
“Pricing started off a little bit lower on a couple of those, as you have some of local connections for the connecting traffic that were pretty low, but as domestic mainland pricing has firmed, we’ve seen some of that pricing firm. We’re encouraged. We’ve gotten both of them moving to a third trip during summer.
“We’ll see how the demand progresses into the fall but, but it’s been a good reaction so far.”
Launching new long-haul routes is not easy. Airlines tend to offer some lower introductory prices to drum up attention on a route and fill up planes to start.
With pricing, Hawaiian Airlines is also contending with connecting itineraries. While there is demand for nonstop travel between those two cities and Hawaii, there is no dearth of options. Passengers can connect in hubs like Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, and more. That puts some downward pressure on fares, though they have started to now firm up to higher levels, according to Mr. Ingram.
Finally launching routes
Hawaiian Airlines had both Austin and Orlando on its radar before the crisis hit. The problem was that the airline did not have the aircraft to serve the points. When asked about how the new routes fit into the airline’s network, Mr. Ingram added the following:
“We’ve added some new routes to the network, and we didn’t add airplanes to the network during this period. But Austin and Orlando are not examples of things we just pulled out of a hat, because it was a pandemic.
“They were both in the top five in terms of O&D traffic to Hawaii and top five of all markets that didn’t have a nonstop service and other things we’ve been looking at for a while.”
Hawaiian Airlines only operates one widebody type: Airbus A330-200. The airline took its last Airbus A330-200 in 2017. It has 24 of the type in service.
Those jets have been used on the airline’s long-haul international and domestic services. Hawaiian also puts the aircraft in service on some shorter routes between the West Coast and Hawaii.
Austin has been a hotbed of new airline services in the last few years. The airport serves one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Hawaiian Airlines was just one of the many airlines that have been growing their offerings out of the airport.
How the Boeing 787s factor in
Hawaiian Airlines is viewing the Boeing 787 as powering some growth and some replacement. As Mr. Ingram stated:
“We may or may not have 24 A330s. We will have some opportunities for lease returns in there. We’ve always said the 787 will be a combination of growth and replacement, and ultimately that’s going to be our long-haul flagship aircraft.
“There’s some parts of our network, we can’t operate without the widebodies – obviously New York, Boston, Orlando, all of the international routes – so widebodies add a level of complexity that you don’t see at some other airlines, but it’s something we’ve been dealing with for as long as we’ve been flying long haul at Hawaiian. But we love the 787, it’s gonna be a good airplane.”
The Boeing 787-9s will seat more passengers than the Airbus A330-200s. So, expect those aircraft to go on the airline’s long-haul flagship routes. Cities like New York and Los Angeles in the US and places like Tokyo internationally are likely to receive service from the new type.
The Boeing 787s will help allow Hawaiian Airlines to keep flying all of the new routes. With Australia and New Zealand flying likely not to come back until next year and not in earnest until perhaps even the second half of 2022, the airline will be well-positioned to serve all its points once the Dreamliners arrive.
For now, the Airbus A330s are doing well on flights to Austin and Orlando. The two routes are performing well, and it seems the airline is happy with the way those routes have been received.
Have you flown Hawaiian from either Austin or Orlando? Do you want to fly Hawaiian Airlines on one of these routes? Let us know in the comments!