Hawaiian Airlines and Amazon

Amazon Taps Hawaiian Airlines for A330 Cargo Operation

Hawaiian Airlines (HA) is gearing up to revolutionize its air logistics operation through a strategic collaboration with retail behemoth Amazon (AMZN). The introduction of Airbus A330 freighters marks a significant milestone in this venture, with the potential to unlock a surge in business for Hawaiian Airlines, provided the partnership proves reliable under the forthcoming agreement set to kick off next month, according to the company’s CEO, Peter Ingram.


Having received its inaugural A330-300 freighter in July, Hawaiian Airlines is poised to commence flights for Amazon Air in October. This interim period allows air and maintenance crews to acclimate themselves to the nuances of the new aircraft and cargo handling procedures at airports. This endeavor aligns with a 10-year contract inked last autumn, empowering the Honolulu-based carrier to eventually oversee a fleet of 10 package freighters on behalf of Amazon.


Amazon, a stalwart in air logistics, has signaled a shift toward the A330, a midsize widebody aircraft, as the linchpin of its aerial operations. With the venerable Boeing 767s, a cornerstone of its current fleet, nearing the twilight of their service lives, viable options for converting passenger planes into cargo configurations are on the wane.


Ingram asserted that this shift presents Hawaiian Airlines with a pivotal growth opportunity, mirroring a decisive move made 13 years ago when they transitioned from 767s to A330-200s for their passenger fleet. He emphasized, “We’re very on-time focused in our passenger business and I know Amazon is very on-time focused in their business. So the best way we can put ourselves in a position for growth in the future is by operating well, with a high completion factor and with great on-time performance.”


Though the specific routes of the first two planes remain confidential, it is evident that the A330 freighter has already embarked on short practice flights, notably at San Bernardino Airport in California, Amazon’s West Coast regional air hub. The aircraft subsequently touched down at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), home to Amazon’s national superhub and Hawaiian Airlines’ pilot base.


The synergy between Hawaiian Airlines and Amazon extends to discussions of potentially expanding operations to include trans-Pacific or other international routes for the delivery of imported goods. This dovetails with Amazon’s existing partnerships with two air carriers, Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) and Atlas Air, who deploy 767s on their behalf.


Ingram revealed that Amazon initiated the solicitation for the transport service contract after opting to invest in the A330 fleet, capitalizing on Hawaiian’s expertise in A330 passenger operations. ATSG’s Chief Executive, Rich Corrado, acknowledged that Hawaiian’s existing A330 certification conferred a strategic edge in clinching the deal.


As Hawaiian Airlines readies itself for this new chapter, preparations include the recruitment of approximately 160 pilots for the freighter operations, each poised to adapt to a unique set of work rules. The forthcoming fleet of A330 freighters, dovetailing with the shift to self-managed maintenance, is anticipated to enhance operational control and yield cost efficiencies.


Simultaneously, Hawaiian Airlines anticipates the arrival of its first Boeing 787 passenger jets early next year, augmenting cargo capacity with their larger frame, which will, in part, replace the early model A330s. This dynamic development underscores Hawaiian Airlines’ commitment to shaping the future of air logistics in partnership with the e-commerce juggernaut, Amazon.

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