Forever beleaguered Hawaii inter-island carrier Island Air filed for bankruptcy yesterday. This after its lessor moved to repossess its fleet of three Q400 planes. Island Air said that it was in the lease renogotiation process when it received lease termination and aircraft return demands from the lessor. To continue operating, it then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“Continuing to operate under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court will allow Island Air to maintain its service to its customers, provide continued employment to its more than 400 valued employees, and ensure a revenue stream so its vendors are paid.”
The company indicated it intends to honor all previously purchased tickets and fly all scheduled services at this time.
Beat of Hawaii: Island Air lessor’s demand for return of their aircraft and termination of its leases came coincidentally or not, just following the definitive announcement of Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights. And the added possibility of Southwest Hawaii inter-island service. We believe that Island Air’s miniscule size and obviously higher cost of doing business do not support the viability of ongoing operations. It would not seem possible for Island Air to become a feasible alternative to Hawaiian Airlines inter-island.
This week’s announcement followed years of problems for the carrier. Last year the company’s long term COO and CEO departed suddenly. That following Island Air’s reorganization earlier last year. Les Murashige was president and COO previously and then came out of a subsequent retirement to manage the company. Rob Mauracher was CEO of the company from 2005 to 2007. David Uchiyama, Island Air COO became president and CEO. David was previously chief commercial offer and prioviously was VP at the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority. If you can keep track of this you’re doing a better job than we are. There have been in total five CEO’s at Island Air in just six years.
As you likely also recall, the company was sold by Larry Ellison to private Hawaii investors in 2016.
Island Air was also previously plagued with years of bad press that includes on and off routes, a fleet of purchased-used and problematic ATR 72 planes and troubling flight delays for a service that needs to be reliable. That before their Q400 fleet was leased.