MIAMI — Spicing up the endless Airbus vs. Boeing race, Leeham News has released some startling news suggesting that Hawaiian Airlines has canceled its order for six Airbus A330-800neos in favor of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The news portal reports that this could be confirmed before the end of this week.
Today, however, Hawaiian claims that it has not signed an agreement with either Boeing or Airbus and that an announcement will be made “when it is appropriate.”
To counteract the potential cancellation, Airbus has offered Hawaiian to cut the price of the A330-800neo, or given options for A350-900 slots.
Though Boeing seems to be gaining momentum. The manufacturer’s leasing company, Boeing Capital Corp, has agreed to release Hawaiian from the leasing agreements of three, old Boeing 767-300(ER)s, which the airline seems desperate to get rid of.
The ‘Misfit’ A330-800neo
The first Airbus A330-800neo rolled out of the paint shop at the beginning of February. The variant was officially launched at the Farnborough Air Show 2014 with very little success, recording a small order for only six units by the airline that’s looking at the competitor’s 787-9 Dreamliner as a replacement.
Jason Rabinowitz, an aviation expert, called the A330-800neo a “misfit aircraft,” suggesting that the plane was conceived for a market that no longer exists.
Two manufactures, two misfit aircraft, a whopping 29 combined orders. pic.twitter.com/D36b1DRnKK
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) February 5, 2018
And with Hawaiian Airlines canceling the only order the A330-800neo has, Boeing will be accomplishing its goal of killing a program that could have gotten in the way of an eventual 797 product, which would ultimately enter that seat/range segment of the market.
Hawaiian’s Second Thoughts
In October last year, Hawaiian’s CEO, Mark Dunkerley, admitted that “it is a good time now to be looking at alternatives” to the A330-800neo now that “Hawaiian’s business has evolved.”
At the time, Dunkerley said that both Boeing and Airbus “have terrific products.”
According to Leeham News, Boeing is “determined to win at any cost.” The planemaker bid below Airbus’ cost of production, though it’s unclear whether this was below the cost of the A330-800 or the A350-900.
“You can expect Airbus to be pushing as many A321s as possible this year. Boeing is attacking the A330neo wherever it pops up,” said the fleet manager of a large Western airline to Reuters.
Boeing’s strategy will intensify in aggressivity now that Airbus has married Bombardier with the CSeries program—the American manufacturer’s nemesis.
As part of Boeing’s campaign, the manufacturer is persuading AirAsiaX to cancel its 60 A330-900s order. However, the airline announced at the Singapore Air Show last month that it was sticking with the A330neo.
The normal sales price of a 787-9 is in the $125 million range, market intelligence indicates. The cost to produce a 787-9 is now believed to be between $80m and $90m, Wall Street analysts suggest.
Should Hawaiian’s decision to swap for the 787-9 Dreamliner, Airbus will have to find a new home for the early production A330-800neos. Some experts suggest that the plane would be a great fit for cargo and military versions, though the manufacturer hasn’t hinted any potential plans for this unsuccessful variant.
The bigger sister plane, the A330-900neo, however, will have TAP Portugal as its launch customer, expecting to receive the first plane before summer time this year. So far, over 219 orders have been logged, with 13 confirmed customers, including Delta Air Lines, Air Asia X, Garuda Indonesia, and Azul, among others.