Up, Up and Away
A new team and 13 new aircraft spell higher altitudes for Hawaiian Airlines.
Though the March 15 inaugural flight of Hawaiian Airlines’ new 717-200 plane lasted only 30 minutes, the fleeting trip around Oahu symbolized the number of years that the Interisland market had not had a new jet. “It’s been a long time since anyone has been in a brand-new plane in Hawaii,” says Keoni Wagner, spokesman for Hawaiian Airlines. Designed at Boeing’s assembly plant in California, the twinjet has illuminated handrails that run the length of the plane’s interior; built-in toe steps for passengers who need a boost in height; and customized storage bins that allow roll-on bags to stand upright instead of flat. The 717-200 can sustain between eight to 12 one-hour trips per day and was designed for repeated turnarounds at airport gates.
Customers soon will benefit from these features, as 12 more 717-200 aircraft join Hawaiian Airlines by the end of this year. The 72-year-old company plans to retire all 15 narrow-body DC-9s. The final negotiation between Hawaiian Airlines and The Boeing Co. was announced on March 2000, involving a dollar figure that airline officials won’t disclose. They do reveal that the list price is $430 million for 13 new planes. “We’ve negotiated a better price than that,” Wagner says. “Boeing is out in the world market trying to sell its aircraft to other airlines. We were one of the earlier buyers of this aircraft, and we want to protect that information as much for Boeing’s, as for our sake.” Hawaiian airline officials expect that over the next 10 years, its investment will save approximately $200 million in maintenance costs.
To further celebrate the new fleet, Hawaiian Airlines in early January proudly unveiled a new corporate logo, which will be displayed on the tail of each new 717-200. The design – a purple Pualani (Flower in the Sky) — hardly strays from the company’s original concept. Like the company it represents, it, too, is improved.Boeing introduced the 717-200 to the aviation industry in October 1995. Air Tran Airways on October 1999 was the first airline to begin flying the 717s.
Already a number of factors point to improvement. Total revenues for Hawaiian Airlines Inc. (AMEX:HA) in 2000 were $607.2 million, a 24.2 percent boost from $488.9 million the previous year. On June 15, daily nonstop flights between San Diego International Airport and Honolulu International Airport were scheduled to begin, making Hawaiian Airlines the only air carrier to offer non-stop services between Hawaii and San Diego.
On Jan. 31, President and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Casey became vice chairman and chief executive officer, while Executive Vice President Robert W. Zoller Jr. became president and chief operating officer. The airline on March 1 announced former TransWorld Airlines executive Christine R. Deister, as its new executive vice president – chief financial officer.