It’s a boat… it’s a plane… it’s a glider! All-electric, powered by eight propellers, hovering 30 feet above the ocean, and charging at 180 miles per hour — that’s how Hawaiian Airlines is betting travelers will one day go island-hopping from Maui to Oahu and beyond.

On Wednesday, the largest commercial flight operator in the lone state of the American archipelago announced a strategic investment in the Massachusetts company that is developing the revolutionary new boat-plane-glider.

Do the electric slide

Being responsible for 2.5% of all man-made CO2 emissions puts immense pressure on airlines to go green. And what better way to get there than in a futuristic electric vehicle that floats like a hovercraft, flies like a low bird, and moors like a boat?

This is precisely what the engineers at Regent, based in Boston, are aiming for. Apparently words fail for the company’s future products, which are currently in development, but fortunately a CGI video set to miami vice-type music does the job in style. For Hawaiian Airlines, which did not detail its investment, the Regent partnership is a chance to stake a future as it recovers from Covid-era losses. Hawaii’s $1.6 billion in revenue last year was down 44% from 2019 before the pandemic. Seagliders could help in several ways:

  • Seagliders are categorized as Wing in Ground Effect Craft, or WIG, which are regulated by the US Coast Guard, not the Federal Aviation Administration. That means the FAA’s rule that pilots need 1,500 hours of training — which has contributed to a shortage of thousands of pilots, leading to the cancellation of thousands of flights this year — doesn’t apply here. .
  • Regent’s sea gliders can enter and leave ports, which means they can use existing infrastructure, reducing investment costs. Their battery-powered electric motors will also be welcome at Hawaiian, which partly attributed a disappointing $122 million first-quarter loss to rising fuel prices.

On board: Regent has raised $27 million from investors including Thiel Capital and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Regional carrier Mesa Air has agreed to purchase 200 twelve-passenger Regent sea gliders to serve U.S. East Coast hubs beginning in 2025. Hawaiian will work with Regent to develop a 100-passenger version with a launch in 2028.

big in japan: Inter-island travel accounted for 20% of Hawaii’s passenger revenue before the pandemic. Unfortunately, the glider’s 180-mile range will prevent it from flying the 4,000-mile route to Japan, which accounts for 70% of the airline’s international revenue.

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