A330-800neo loses its only customer as Hawaiian Airlines orders the 787-9

An artist's impression of a Boeing 787-9 in Hawaiian Airlines livery. (Hawaiian Airlines)
An artist’s impression of a Boeing 787-9 in Hawaiian Airlines livery. (Hawaiian Airlines)

Hawaiian Airlines has dropped plans to operate the Airbus A330-800neo and will instead take delivery of up to 20 Boeing 787-9s.

The airline said on Tuesday (US time) it had signed a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) for 10 787-9s, as well as purchase rights for a further 10 aircraft. The aircraft will be powered by General Electric GEnx engines, with deliveries to begin in 2021.

While Hawaiian Airlines had previously ordered six A330-800neos – it was the only airline customer for the smaller A330neo model – it had recently been weighing up whether it was still the right aircraft for its needs.

The airline said it selected the 787-9 following a “competitive bid process” that also included the A330-900neo.

An artist's impression of a Boeing 787-9 in Hawaiian Airlines livery. (Hawaiian Airlines)
Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 will be powered by General Electric engines. (Hawaiian Airlines)
An artist's impression of a Boeing 787-9 in Hawaiian Airlines livery. (Hawaiian Airlines)
Hawaiian Airlines has not released the cabin configuration of its 787-9. (Hawaiian Airlines)

“We were in the enviable position of choosing between two outstanding models for our flagship aircraft of the future and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of adding the Dreamliner to Hawaiian’s fleet,” Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram said.

“The Dreamliner combines excellent comfort for our guests with fantastic operational performance and will allow us to continue modernising our fleet into the next decade.”

The loss of Hawaiian Airlines’ order leaves the A330-800neo without an airline customer as the first aircraft prepares to begin flight testing by the middle of 2018.

The first Airbus A330-800neo MSN1888 at Toulouse. (Airbus)
A February 2018 image of the first Airbus A330-800neo, MSN1888, at Toulouse. (Airbus)

Currently, Hawaiian Airlines has 24 Airbus A330-200s and eight Boeing 767s in its fleet, as well as its first two A321neos plus 20 717s.

Its A330-200s, which are configured with 18 business class and 276 economy class seats for a total of 294, are used on flights from its Honolulu hub to Australia, New Zealand and Asia, as well as on select routes from Hawaii to the US mainland. Meanwhile, its 767s have 264 seats (18 business, 246 economy).

While Hawaiian Airlines has not revealed the cabin layout for its 787-9s, Ingram said the Dreamliner would be able to carry more passengers than its existing aircraft.

“It has more seating capacity than Hawaiian’s current widebody fleet, which will allow us to further build upon our successful growth in Asia,” he said.

An infographic on the Boeing 787-9 for Hawaiian Airlines. (Boeing)
An infographic on the Boeing 787-9 for Hawaiian Airlines. (Boeing)

Hawaiian said it expected to finalise binding purchase agreements with Boeing and engine provider GE in the second quarter of calendar 2018.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Kevin McAllister welcomed the Hawaiian Airlines order.

“Hawaiian Airlines has been on an impressive growth trajectory, continuously expanding service between Asia and North America,” McAllister said.

“It’s why we are thrilled they’ve chosen to reach their next horizon with the 787 Dreamliner.”

Boeing celebrated the Hawaiian Airlines order on Twitter


  1. Lechuga says

    Wonder who (if anyone) will snag the -800.

    Airbus surely wouldn’t go through the trouble of building an aircraft for nothing. Price slashed for definite.

    Asiana could be a possibility after not getting the A350-800 that they wanted, but I could be wrong.

  2. David says

    Would be nice to see Qantas ordering more 787’s for their International fleet, and Virgin adding them. It would be nice to see Australians being patriotic to their Airlines.

  3. john browne says

    Another airline where the beancounters are placed before customer comfort. After experiencing squeezeliner economy class with Jetstar and Qantas I will not be flying Hawaiian when they start using 787’s

  4. Leslie Willmette says

    Well here in Australia the dreamliner is about to go into service with Qantas and as we are coming to Hawaii in aprili with Hawaiian it will be great to see the service they are well known here from work travellers .The dreamliner will be a great plane for Hawaiian

  5. AlanH says

    So they should. They are the 50th American state after all, and President Trump would expect them to support US products I imagine. Don’t have a problem with that philosophy.

  6. Ben says

    I don’t really understand the A330 NEO. Surely the A350 is supposed to be a viable A330 replacement. Sure the A350 is bigger, but then if there were demand for such an aircraft at such a size why not just launch smaller derivatives of the A350? (say the 600 or 700). Then again if that was viable the A350-800 would be similarly successful.

    It would be the equivalent of Boeing launching a 767 MAX alongside the 787. Two models from the same manufacturer, essentially competing with each other. The relaunch of the older model may appeal to some carriers wanting a cheaper new-build aircraft, but eventually the latest model will supersede them.

    So went the 707, 727, 737 originals and classics, the 747, DC8, DC9, DC10 and MD11 and indeed the Airbus A300, A310 and A340. Eventually better technology and more fuel efficiency will win out The A330 is a great aircraft, but Airbus shouldn’t be trying to keep it alive just for the sake of it.

    On the subject of passenger comfort in the 787, I don’t understand why Boeing couldn’t just make their cabins a wee bit wider to accommodate 9 abreast at the coveted 18 inch seat width. Come to think of it they could do the same for 10 abreast in the 777 (I think 18 inches at 10 abreast is possible in the 777X)

    Having said that, 9 abreast is possible on the A330/A340, 10 abreast is possible on the A350 and 11 abreast is possible on the A380. Thankfully none of these have become industry standard.

    Regarding Hawaiian Airlines, I wonder if direct Hawaii-Europe flights would be viable with the 787-9? HNL-LHR is ‘only’ 6,289 nm on a great circle distance. Certainly significantly less than PER-LHR which will be serviced by the same aircraft model.

  7. Darren says

    Good choice,

    – Hawaiian airlines.

    The A330-800NEO is definitely in trouble. I don’t expect a high number of airline interest towards that airplane.

  8. Chris Shepherd says

    219 orders for -900neo, comparing list prices A330-800neo $57.5m cheaper than A350-900, although 257pax vs 325…. Dreamliner -9 $281m and 290ish pax, good range,

    is the -9 better value for money ? From what i read Airbus are developing the 800neo for a range of 8150nmi at a slightly higher 251t MTOW with the 257pax, and listed at $259.9mil. Does Hawaiian want to get nearer the 300 passenger mark ?

    -900neo 287 pass 7250nmi up from 6550, 251t nmi and 296.6mil

  9. Russell Johnston says

    I am still bemused as to why Hawaiian hasn’t properly capitalised on its strategic geographic position in the mid-ish Pacific and its unfettered access to mainland US destinations to dominate the trans-pacific route between Asia and the US.
    Hawaii is a very civilised 10-12hr flight from most major cities in Asia/Oceania which provides a very manageable 1-stop to any US destination. Add to this their total control over the airport at Honolulu to streamline transfers and the potential to offer free stop-overs to leisure guests: its a no-brianer to fly Hawaiian – they just need more competitive pricing.
    Time to secure some capital, lease a few 777X’s/A3501000’s/dare I say A380’s coming off lease? and start seriously developing some economies of scale to compete over the Pacific. Hawaiian, it is your destiny!!
    Also, agree re: A330-800 – unless they are making regional variants for high passenger short haul then I fail to see how it will compete with 787/350 – too similar in size and not as fuel efficient/comfortable.

  10. Kendal says

    Russell….. simple, why would I want to stop over in Hawaii when I can spend a couple more hours in the air and go straight to my destination, no messing around with transfers and ultimately less time spent travelling.

  11. Allan says

    Until passengers start boycotting the “Cramliner” with its narrow seats, airlines will keep buying them purely on dollar return per seat. Passenger comfort does not matter to the bean counters. Good-bye Hawaiian Airlines if you put your 787s on my route. I’ll choose Airbus every time.

  12. OC says

    I can understand why Hawaiian didnt stick with the 800 (per seat economics a bit challenged plus significant risk around re-sale value given lack of orders) but I think they will live to regret going with the Squeezeliner in a 9 abreast configuration over the A330-900.

    I for one refuse to fly a 9 abreast 787 (and know plenty others who do also) and Hawaii (who have built their reputation on better comfort and customer service) risk tarnishing their brand through inflicting the dismal experience of economy on their unsuspecting passengers used to flying on rekatively roomy 8 abreast A330s and 7 abreast 767s.

    Delta has 25 A330-900s on order. United and American are both considering ordering it. Multiple Asian carriers will either replace their A330-300s with A330-900s or with A350s. In short there will be many alternatives for disgruntled former Hawaiian passengers to choose if they are disatisfied with their first 787 experience.

  13. NTony Sayer says

    Sad news about Hawaiian’s choice of the B787. I love the A330; my wife and I can choose window seating and not have to step over strangers to go to the loo. All the other post-B767 aircraft have 3-abreast window seating. Honolulu is very conveniently located mid-way to New York – roughly 10 hours on each leg from Brisbane. However, Hawaiian needs to offer a few more US East Coast destinations (eg, Boston, Washington).

  14. Russell Johnston says

    Kendal……..I was referring to all non-east coast US destinations that you still have to fly through LA/Sanfran/Sandiego to get to – like New York, Boston, Washington, Miami, you name it. The stop in Hawaii HAS to be preferable to LAX, and it breaks the trip up into two manageable 10-ish hour chunks. Obviously Hawaii would need to grow its east coast destinations to facilitate this.

  15. Trogdor says

    @Russell – I agree, although it’s probably too late now.

    Hawaiian should have been doing this 20 years ago, setting themselves up for Asia – US flights in the same way Singapore Airlines set themselves up as a hub in Asia. If they had run a fleet of A330s or 777s they could have covered a stack of routes from Asia to the East coast before anyone could run them direct, and offer a very attractive stopover option as well.

  16. Ian says

    U.S politics at work again hey?

    Squeezy 9 abreast seats in the 787 vs, relatively comfy 8 abreast (and only one seat from an aisle)… in the A330..for passengers…. its a no-brainer.

  17. Craigy says

    I think I will wait and pass judgement once Hawaiian announce the seating configuration. Ingram said the B789 is able to carry more than the existing fleet but it doesn’t mean Hawaiian will opt for cramarama