Hawaiian Airlines’ aging fleet of 19 Boeing 717 jets is expected to have a different replacement than expected, the Boeing 737.
The announcement of the acquisition of the Honolulu-based carrier by Alaska Airlines days ago completely changed the plans to retire the old twin-engine aircraft derived from the McDonnell Douglas MD-90.
The aircraft, which are responsible for flights within the Hawaiian archipelago, had the Airbus A319neo, the A220 and the Embraer E195-E2 as possible replacements until shortly before the merger was announced.
But a short excerpt from Alaska Airlines’ report on the Hawaiian acquisition suggests that the 717 is likely to be succeeded by the 737.
The option is more than expected as Alaska has just standardized its fleet with Boeing 737 jets after removing ten Airbus A321neo jets from service.
In the report, the company states that the “717 fleet has nearly half its cycle time remaining, and could eventually be replaced by 737.”
High number of cycles
Of the 19 planes, five are leased and 14 are owned and are even debt-free.
The 717 is configured with 128 seats in two classes (eight in business and 120 in economy). They play an important role in interconnecting five airports in Hawaii while the A321 and A330 handle medium and long-range flights.
But they suffer from a high average number of cycles due to the short distance between the Hawaiian Islands.
The model that would best fit into Hawaiian’s fleet would be the 737 MAX 7, a smaller version of the family and with a capacity closer to the 717, but the aircraft is delayed in certification and there are no orders in Alaska’s backlog – only 737-8 models, 737-9 and 737-10.
Alaska Airlines, on the other hand, has a vast fleet of Embraer E175 jets, operated by its subsidiary Horizon Air. With 76 seats, the planes would have 60% of the capacity of the 717, which would require a larger fleet and also more frequencies.
Another short-term alternative is the 737NG, but they are mostly old aircraft, as is the case with the 14 737-700.