Hawaiian Airlines Confirms A321neo Delivery Delays

 - December 21, 2016, 10:08 AM

Hawaiian Airlines will receive its first Airbus A321neos at least three months later than originally planned, in the fourth quarter of next year, as the airplane’s European manufacturer continues to cope with delays associated with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines that will power Hawaiian’s choice of the narrowbodies. The airline reported the new delivery schedule in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing in which it revised a December 5 investor update to reflect higher-than-expected growth in operating revenue per available seat mile.

Hawaiian holds a purchase order for 16 A321neos and recently announced plans to lease two more. Plans called for delivery of all the airplanes by 2020, as Hawaiian replaces Boeing 767s with the new Airbus jets on services to the mainland. Hawaiian plans to retire its fleet of eight 767s by the end of 2018.

Airbus, meanwhile, has yet to announce the first operator for the Pratt-powered A321neo, which earned joint FAA-EASA certification on December 15.

The first variant of the A321neo to have received EASA and FAA type certification, the Pratt-powered version made its first flight later than did the CFM Leap-1A-powered model, which flew for the first time on February 9. Originally planning to fly the PW1100G-powered version first, Airbus switched the flight-test sequence as Pratt worked on a machining problem and software adjustments to address operating restrictions—namely extended start-time intervals—on the smaller A320neo. The first Airbus A321neo powered by Pratt & Whitney engines completed its maiden flight exactly a month later. Despite the switch in first flight sequence, Airbus still plans to deliver the Pratt-powered A321neo around the new year, just ahead of Leap-powered version in the first quarter.  

During a conference call to discuss Airbus’s third-quarter results, CFO Harald Wilhelm alerted investors to continuing supply chain difficulties associated with both the A350 and A320neo family. By the end of the third quarter, more than 20 A320neos awaited installation of their PW1100Gs. Although Pratt & Whitney had found a solution to the “rotor bow” problems that led to longer than acceptable restart times, PW1100G deliveries remained behind schedule, leaving Airbus with a disproportionate delivery undertaking for the fourth quarter and the prospect of further backloading next year.

“I can not exclude again some backloading for 2017,” said Wilhelm. “Certainly our intention would be make it less loaded than it is this year… But I think it is a bit early to talk about the phasing in 2017 as we are in discussions to register [a] firm commitment [from Pratt & Whitney].”