Hawaiian Airlines plans to buy 10 Boeing Dreamliners and could use them on flights between Honolulu and Auckland.

The airline has opted for 787-9s ahead of a new version of the Airbus A330 it currently has in its wide-body fleet.

The new planes, powered with General Electric GEnx engines, are due to enter Hawaiian's fleet from 2021.

The airline has an option to double the Dreamliner order following the execution of a non-binding letter of intent today. Hawaiian Airlines president and chief executive Peter
Ingram said the economics of the Dreamliner made sense compared to planes it has in its fleet at the moment.

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''The 787 suits our network well in terms of the distances we fly and the market sizes,'' he told the Herald.

''It was a good time to be considering wide-body aircraft for the future because over the last couple of years both manufacturers have produced more aircraft than they've sold so I think we saw very active competition.''

Hawaiian expects to finalise binding purchase agreements with Boeing and GE in the second quarter of this year.

The airline will also begin negotiating inclusion of the new aircraft in its pilot and cabin crew contracts which is required prior to final approval of the purchase by the company's board.

Ingram said route planning was in its early stages but using them to replace the A330s on the New Zealand route was an option.

''It's way too early to say what the initial fleet deployments will be but eventually that is one of the routes that likely makes some sense. I think that is one we'll certainly be considering.''

The improved range of the 787-9 gave Hawaiian options to fly further afield than its United States mainland and Pacific Rim core markets.

''That is absolutely one of the bits of flexibility that this airplane gives us. By the time that airplane comes we will see continued market evolution,'' he said.

Hawaiian currently operates a mainline fleet of 54 aircraft: 24 Airbus A330-200 and 8 Boeing 767 wide-body aircraft — which are being phased out - two A321neo and 20 717 narrow-body aircraft.

The company selected the 787-9 as part of a competitive bid process that also included the Airbus A330-900.

Air New Zealand was the launch customer for the 787-9 in 2014 and uses the plane on the Auckland-Honolulu route. Close to 300 of that model aircraft are flying with airlines now.

Ingram said his airline had not determined the configuration or fit out of its new aircraft.