Hawaiian Dumps Airbus Order for Boeing Jets
By Doug Cameron and Robert Wall
Hawaiian Airlines is expected to cancel an order for Airbus SE long-haul jets in favor of buying its first new Boeing Co. 787-9 Dreamliners, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
Boeing's win in a closely watched contest is a rare example of a plane maker successfully flipping an airline's choice of intercontinental jets, and people familiar with the situation said discounts offered by the U.S. company were a key factor.
The competition for wide-body deals has become particularly intense following a lull in orders over the past two years for larger planes, which typically are more profitable for plane makers than single-aisle jets.
The unit of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. had originally ordered six Airbus A330-800neo jets, a version of the European plane maker's popular twin-aisle jet that has struggled to gain customers. Hawaiian was the sole customer for the A330-800 model that typically would seat around 257 passengers.
"We have not signed an agreement with either manufacturer," said a spokesman for the airline. "We look forward to announcing the conclusion of those negotiations when it is appropriate to do so."
Boeing declined to comment.
Hawaiian operates an existing version of the A330 on flights to Asia and the U.S. and has taken the first of its smaller Airbus A321neo jets, which have been affected by problems involving the plane's Pratt & Whitney engines that have limited their flying.
The engine issues didn't influence its decision to buy the Boeing jets, according to people familiar with the situation.
Hawaiian had said it would consider flying direct to London, the single-largest market for U.S. trans-Atlantic flights, if the Airbus plane has the range to perform that mission. The carrier hasn't announced firm plans to fly to the U.K. capital.
Airbus has been pressing ahead with work on the A330-800 despite its weak order book. A test plane to certify the aircraft was painted this month ahead of the start of flight trials.
The first of the larger versions, the A330-900, which would typically seat around 287 passengers, is due for delivery this year to Portugal's TAP airline. Airbus has 214 orders for that model with Malaysian long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X buying 66 of them.
Analysts have expressed concern Airbus may have to lower A330 production rates because of a dearth of orders for the new version, which competes not only with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner but also its own, newer A350 long-range jetliner.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 21, 2018 14:58 ET (19:58 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.