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It’s not often that you see a massive exodus of jets from a certain location.
In the small hours after the Super Bowl ends, you usually see a multitude of private jets departing from the airport closest to the stadium. When the coronavirus brought down demand for air travel, airlines sent their planes en masse to storage hangars across the southwest.
And when a hurricane is about to hit its main hub, Hawaiian Airlines has carefully sent most of its planes out of harm’s way.
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If you’ve been shrouded in coronavirus blanket, you may have missed that Hurricane Douglas is expected to pass through the Hawaiian Islands with wind speeds that are currently 90 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center predicts damaging winds, flooding rains and dangerously high waves for much of Aloha state.
The Category 2 hurricane is expected to make landfall around the night of July 26 and will likely cause damage to areas in its path.
And this path is getting dangerously close to Hawaii’s main hub, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu. Thus, in preparation, Hawaiian has put 54 of its 62 jets out of danger.
The airline operates three different types of aircraft – the Airbus A321, the Airbus A330 and the Boeing 717. These jets could easily be damaged during the hurricane, especially since Hawaiian does not have enough space. interior hangar for its entire fleet.
Related: 5 Reasons To Fly Hawaiian Airlines To Hawaii
In addition, according to Vice President of Flight Operations Bob Johnson, hangars cannot withstand winds of up to 130 miles per hour. Although Hurricane Douglas is not that strong, moving the fleet is a necessary precautionary measure.
The Boeing 717 is the inter-island workhorse for the Hawaiian. Johnson mentioned that these single-aisle jets will be stored in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, as projections show he should be the most protected from the storm.
In addition, the airport has “large runways, large taxiways and can hold a lot of planes, which is factored into our decision,” Johnson told the Hawaiian newspaper KITV. Plus, flying nonstop to the mainland would be just high end for the Boeing 717.
The Airbus A321 and A330 are the jets that primarily perform the airline’s international and continental flights. They have the reach to get to the mainland with ease, and that’s exactly where the Hawaiian sent them.
Related: What Will Hawaiian Fly Between Islands After 717 Retires?
The two fleets are currently spread over the west coast. The Airbus A321s are in Oakland, Portland and Sacramento. Airbus A330s are seated in Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland and San Francisco. Two A321s and six A330s were still in Honolulu at the time of publication and are likely locked in the hangars there.
The “mad rush” off the island also prompted Hawaiian to follow an interesting route. After an A330 flew from Honolulu to Seoul on Friday, the airline clearly did not want the plane to return to danger. So instead of having the plane sit on the ground in South Korea or return to Hawaii, the Hawaiian sent the jet nonstop to Los Angeles. Below was Hawaiian Flight 1330 en route from Seoul to LAX – quite an interesting and unusual route for the airline.
This is the first time since 1992 that Hawaiian Airlines has moved its planes off O’ahu. Twenty-eight years ago, Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm, became the strongest hurricane to hit the state of Hawaii, and the airline put its planes out of harm’s way. And now, as if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, the airline has to start all over again.
Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines
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