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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hawaiian Airlines completes $4.4B deal for 24 Airbus jets

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaiian Airlines has finalized its $4.4 billion acquisition of up to 24 new Airbus jets after reaching key labor agreements with its pilot and flight attendant unions.

The state's largest carrier said yesterday that it has signed a definitive purchase agreement under which it will acquire six A330-200 aircraft, six A350WXB-800 aircraft and gain purchase rights for another 12 aircraft. Hawaiian said it will take delivery of the aircraft between 2012 and 2020.

The jets will replace Hawaiian's current wide-body fleet of 18 Boeing 767-200 planes and possibly new routes to distant markets.

"This investment sets Hawaiian on course for future growth built on a renewed and expanded aircraft fleet and with the capability to fly nonstop between Hawai'i and virtually any major visitor market in the world," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's chief executive officer.

Shares of the airline's parent Hawaiian Holdings closed at $5 yesterday on the American Stock Exchange, down 8 cents.

In November, Hawaiian signed a memorandum of understanding with Europe-based Airbus but subsequently said it had an impasse in negotiations with its pilots union that might prevent the purchase from going forward.

Pilot Eric Sampson, chairman of the 300-member Air Line Pilots Association Hawaiian Airlines pilot group, said in a news release that management didn't approach the union until after it announced the deal. But he said both sides have since resolved issues such as staffing, crew rest facilities and work rules required with the new aircraft.

The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 900 Hawaiian employees, reached a similar deal with the airline.

The pacts come as management and Hawaiian Airlines' unions are negotiating the terms of a new labor agreement. The flight attendants' two-year contract ended in November, while the pilots' past contract ended in June.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.