1st Airbus in Hawaiian Airlines' new fleet touches down in Isles
• Photo gallery: New Hawaiian Airlines aircraft arrives
By Alan Yonan Jr.
Hawaiian Airlines' first Airbus A330-200 touched down at Honolulu International Airport yesterday, ushering in a new phase in the evolution of the state's largest airline.
The plane is the first of 27 long-range Airbus jets Hawaiian plans to add to its fleet over the next decade. It gives the carrier the ability to fly nonstop to destinations it currently can't reach, including points in Asia and the East Coast of the United States.
"The A330 that you see here is really part of preparing for the future," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and chief executive officer. "I think our future is going to involve growth, new destinations, destinations further afield, and improved service for our existing customers between here and the Mainland."
The A330 departed the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, on Thursday and stopped over in Seattle for a few days of scheduled modification work before departing for Honolulu.
Capt. Robert Mix and first officer Mark Dawson performed a flyby over the runway at Honolulu International Airport before landing the plane and taxiing it through a water arch provided by two Honolulu Fire Department fire engines.
The plane is scheduled to begin service June 4 on Hawaiian's Honolulu-Los Angeles route. Hawaiian expects to take delivery of its second A330 later this month or in early June, and that plane also will be used on the Honolulu-Los Angeles route, Dunkerley said. Hawaiian plans to add a third A330 in November.
The new aircraft will replace the Boeing 767s that currently fly the Los Angeles route. Hawaiian eventually will replace its entire fleet of 18 767s with new A330s, Dunkerley said.
The A330 can carry 294 passengers and has a range of 6,500 nautical miles. By comparison, the 767 can carry 264 passengers and has a range of 5,000 nautical miles.
Hawaiian expects to hear sometime this month from the U.S. Department of Transportation whether it is successful in its bid for two of the four routes opening up from the U.S. to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Dunkerley said. Hawaiian would use the A330 for that route if it is awarded the route.
Mix, who is the A330 senior fleet captain, and Dawson, who is the fleet capitan, underwent 3 1/4 weeks of ground school and two weeks of flight simulator training on the aircraft. They will be in charge of training other Hawaiian pilots on the A330.
The first A330s will be leased by Hawaiian. The airline has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus to buy seven A330s starting in 2011 and six A350 extra wide-body aircraft starting in 2017. Hawaiian also has purchase rights to acquire an additional five A330s and six A350s.