Key Points:

  • Hawaiian Airlines is in the decision-making process for replacing its Boeing 717 fleet, expected to announce its choice by late this year or early next year.

  • The Boeing 717s, aging between 19 and almost 25 years, are vital for Hawaiian Airlines, carrying half of the airline's annual 6 million passengers on short inter-island routes.

  • CEO Peter Ingram previously mentioned Airbus A319s, A220s, and Embraer 195-E2s as potential replacements back in 2019.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO: Replacement Decision for Boeing 717s on Horizon

HONOLULU — Peter Ingram, CEO of Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines, recently indicated that a decision about replacing the carrier’s aging Boeing 717 fleet is imminent. In an interview with FlightGlobal on August 24, Ingram suggested that an announcement is likely “by late this year or early next year.”

Currently, Hawaiian Airlines has a fleet of 19 Boeing 717s, each fitted with 128 seats. These aircraft are crucial to the airline's operations, performing up to 16 cycles daily on inter-island routes that span across five Hawaiian airports. According to data from Cirium, the fleet's ages range from 19 to nearly 25 years.

The airline has been analyzing possible replacements for its workhorse 717s, which are uniquely equipped to handle the rugged conditions of the Hawaiian archipelago. The short, frequent flights, typically ranging from 30 to 60 minutes, are taxing on the jets due to the region's humid and salty ocean air. Indeed, the Boeing 717s are responsible for transporting around half of Hawaiian Airlines' annual 6 million passengers.

Given the challenging operational conditions, the aircraft have become indispensable for routes like the 45-minute flight from Honolulu to Kahului on the island of Maui, the airline’s most heavily traveled inter-island route. On this journey, the 717s spend approximately 20 minutes cruising at an altitude of 13,000 feet.

Two years ago, in 2019, Ingram had listed Airbus A319s, A220s, and Embraer 195-E2s as the potential successors to the 717s. Hawaiian and Delta Air Lines remain the only U.S. carriers with Boeing 717s still in operation. Internationally, Qantas subsidiaries also operate a significant number of these narrowbody jets.

As Hawaiian Airlines moves closer to a decision on phasing out its Boeing 717s, the choice will be pivotal for the airline's strategy in inter-island travel, which constitutes a considerable portion of its passenger load. It's a decision that is keenly awaited, given the fleet's age and the rigorous demands of Hawaiian aviation.