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Hawaiian Suspends 151 Flights, Leaving Route To Southwest

by Staff

Thanks to a tip from regular readers, we learned that Hawaiian Airlines will suspend a long-running and successful route until late spring, leaving the route, for now, to competitor Southwest Airlines. It also made us wonder why Hawaiian abandoned that route for more than two months. Reader Harvey said, “We fly to Kahului from Oakland a few times a year and just noticed that without any notice, Hawaiian ceased all direct flights from OAK-OGG until May 25th. Must go to SFO. Humbug.”

See below for what we believe might be the cause(s) of the service suspension.

Choice 1: Fares are too cheap due to low demand for flights to Maui for a variety of reasons. Even when the flights return, fares start at an unprofitable $100 each way.

Choice 2: Airbus A321neo issues continue to plague Hawaiian Airlines, and something had to give. We saw a number of A321neo planes at the Hawaiian Air hangar last week when we were onboard the new Dreamliner. One of those is pictured above. We don’t know how many of planes in that narrow-body fleet are offline at this time.

This wouldn’t be the first flights culled due to these A321neo issues.

Some engine components risk cracking due to a rare powder metal defect that impacts the 321 fleet. Last fall Reuters first reported that repairs could require as much as 300 days out-of-service per engine. That is five times longer than previously thought. Hawaiian told us that the engines are returned directly to RTX and that repairs then happen at various authorized facilities.

The ongoing work involves the removal, inspection, repair, and reinstallation of the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G GTF (geared turbofan) jet engines on eighteen aircraft.

The engine issues impact both Hawaiian Airlines’ and Delta Air Lines’ narrow-body A321neo fleets used for Hawaii flights. Reuters mentioned that Hawaiian (together with Spirit and JetBlue) “have the largest exposure to the GTF problem.”

Hawaii flights were temporarily eliminated on at least three routes last year.

1. Paused Lihue-Oakland service from Sept. 6 through Dec. 14, 2023.

2. Suspended, Honolulu to San Jose on Saturdays, and San Jose to Honolulu on Mondays, as well as service between Kahului and San Jose on Sundays from Sept. 9, 2023 through Jan. 8, 2024.

3. Also stopped its Kahului-Las Vegas flight for a period last summer.

Which Hawaiian Air flights are being removed this time?

76 flights from Oakland to Kahului are off-schedule.

Starting March 10 and continuing through May 24, there will be no flights from Oakland to Maui. Those are set to resume daily starting May 25. Fares will start from $100 each way on the planned resumption of service.

Usually, flight 23 departs Oakland at 7 a.m. and arrives on Maui at 10:25 a.m. Following resumption, it is scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. and arrive at 9:20 (factoring in Daylight Savings Time).

75 flights from Maui back to Oakland are off-schedule.

Starting March 9 and continuing through May 23, there will be no nonstop flights from Maui to Oakland. Those will also resume daily beginning May 24, when fares will also start at $100 each way.

Normally, flight 24 departs Maui at 1:55 p.m. and arrives in Oakland at 8:55 p.m. Following its resumption, the scheduled departure is changed to 3:45 p.m., with mainland arrival at 11:45 p.m.

The Oakland route has operated regularly since 2010. So what happened?

The article’s lead photo may represent the most likely scenario based on what we know and what we saw yesterday at the Hawaiian Airlines’ hangar in Honolulu. That was an Airbus A321neo with one of its engines removed.

In addition, the route is highly competitive and low fares with strong competition from Southwest Airlines. With fares starting at just $100 each way following resumption, it is not a break-even proposition regarding what it costs the airline to provide the service. Thus, the most likely cause for the flight suspension, is a combination of these two factors.

What are your thoughts on sudden flight changes like this?

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