The planned USD1.9 billion buyout of Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu) by Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma International) could eventually see B737 MAX stock replace Hawaiian's workhorse B717-200s on inter-island routes.

The Beat of Hawaii outlet notes that the investor presentation accompanying the merger announcement earlier this week says Hawaiian's B717 fleet has nearly half its flight cycle remaining but could eventually be replaced by B737s.

Hawaiian's 19-strong fleet of B717-200s has an average age of 21.9 years. According to ch-aviation fleets data, the youngest has completed just over 30,800 flight cycles, while the oldest has done almost 76,500 cycles. The aircraft link key Hawaiian airports, including Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului, Kona, and Lihue. Except for the B717s, Hawaiian is an Airbus airline, with the remainder of its fleet comprising eighteen A321-200Ns, twenty-four A330-200s, and one A330-300(P2F). It also has eight A330-300s on order.

In contrast, Alaska Airlines is a Boeing operator. Twenty-four of its 252 aircraft are Airbus types, including eighteen A320-200s and six A321-200Ns. However, all of those aircraft have gone out of service. The backbone of the Alaska fleet is the B737 type. It currently operates eleven B737-700s, three B737-700(BDSF)s, fifty-nine B737-800s, one B737-800(BCF), sixty-three B737-9s, twelve B737-900s, and seventy-nine B737-900ERs. The airline also has forty-eight B737-10s, ten B737-8s, and twenty-five B737-9s on order.

The outlet notes that the closest-sized aircraft to the B717-200 is the still-to-be-certified B737-7. While the necessary certification is expected to be secured in 2024, the investor presentation did not state the particular type of aircraft to replace the B717 beyond saying it would be some kind of B737. It also did not state any timelines. Alaska Airlines declined to comment beyond what was already stated in the investor presentation while a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson said there was no new update on the B717 fleet plan.

Alaska Air Group also said in an investor presentation that the merger with Hawaiian Airlines would create the "potential to cross-fleet widebody aircraft on high-demand long-haul routes not currently served". Alaska Airlines does not operate any widebody aircraft, even though it competes on some long-haul transcontinental services with carriers utilising widebody jets. Hawaiian's A330s are up for lease renewal "in near term", which increases the airlines' flexibility.