Say aloha to Hawaiian’s new business class


The laid-back lifestyle of Hawaii is being reflected in Hawaiian Airlines’ new long-haul business class, with the airline’s fleet of 23 A330s being fitted with lie-flat seating, to be introduced into operations in Q2, 2016.

Hawaiian has teamed up with Italian seat manufacturer Optimares for the seats, and West Coast USA-based brand and design consultancy PaulWylde to translate the airline’s design language into the cabin refresh. The seating order was placed in March, with customization work undertaken in the interim including extensive styling work and the addition of a tablet-based IFE system that includes a telescopic arm to adjust the viewing angle.

“Although you are now seeing the product close to completion, there were years of designing that preceded what you see today,” stated Paul Wylde, CEO of the eponymous design consultancy (which has also worked on JetBlue’s MINT product and the Air Canada Rouge brand).

“The first part of our task was actually very technical and analytical. Working with the company’s strategy and transformation team, we developed an agreed commercial, ergonomic, operations and brand experience-led criteria and analyzed literally hundreds of different configuration designs, using many different products, before we collectively agreed on a solution. The second part of our project was to create a truly unique and bespoke brand expression for Hawaiian Airlines using our skills in brand strategy, industrial design, interior design, color and material, trim and finish. Looking holistically, striving for a premium expression and being true to the unique brand positioning was a careful harmonious balance to achieve.”

For example, the trim and finish work saw the seat shell outer finished in a stone gray (called Poi) to create a feeling of calm and balance, while the inside of the seat is finished in deep espresso Poltrona Frau leather with ice blue contrasting stitching. Further accents of ice blue and the more flamboyant and rich brand colors of Aloha Pink, Ho’okipa Plue and Cloud White will be applied to the soft products such as blankets and cushions.

“The key focal points of the seat are a wonderful wave-like back shell detail that contrasts with a bamboo-inspired thatched translucent privacy screen. We believe that these innovations are breakthrough for commercial aviation,” added Wylde.

The business cabin capacity will remain at 18 seats (2-2-2 in the new cabins), but overall seating will be reduced from 294 seats to 278, with main cabin accommodation dropping from 236 to 192 at a 31in pitch, while the Extra Comfort section (36in seat pitch) increases from 40 seats to 68. This reconfiguration should see profits rise as the business class product becomes competitive with that of rival airlines, and more premium seats become available. Until a large portion of the fleet is fitted with the new product, fares will remain static, with the new product creating a nice, good value surprise.

“We’re not disclosing the cost of the program or timing of returns, but it constitutes a major investment,” stated a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson, adding they wouldn’t undertake the project “unless it offered positive financial returns”.

The first newly outfitted aircraft is expected to enter Hawaiian’s long-haul network in the second quarter of 2016. The airline will begin installing lie-flat seats in its remaining 22 A330-200s in September 2016 through 2017.

This long-haul enhancement comes hot on the heels of an upgrade of the airline’s island-hopping Boeing 717 interiors, also designed by PaulWylde, and fitted with Acro seating.

Below: The 180-degree seats will use an innovative seat platform to fold into 76in beds, maximizing living space for travelers while providing options for both privacy and a shared flight experience

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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