Island Air

Airlines Serving Hawaii Are Down by Two | What’s Next?

Within ten days of one another, two airlines serving Hawaii that once held much promise, have departed permanently or gone out of business. Is this a coincidence or what?

Allegiant Air

We were all so excited when low-cost carrier Allegiant announced plans to serve Hawaii. And, following their experiences here in Hawaii, many of us were just as happy to see them leave. Their last flight between Honolulu and Las Vegas took place less than two weeks ago, ending years of speculation, hope, trials and disappointments.

Allegiant started flights to Hawaii in 2012. Thereafter, they expanded service quickly with service from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Bellingham, Phoenix, Boise, Eugene, Fresno and Stockton. As you recall, prices started at just $99 each way. Two years later, however, they had terminated all routes except from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Los Angeles flights lived on until 2015, leaving only Las Vegas until last month.

Allegiant never took off in Hawaii for a multitude of reasons. Those included a limited, a la carte service and pricing model including carry-on fees, seats that did not recline, long delays and flights cancellations, plaguing safety questions, aging, unreliable aircraft, and poor customer service.

As a result, Allegiant had very limited appeal to both visitors and locals alike. We chose to never fly Allegiant.

Island Air

Hawaii’s second largest inter-island carrier company with 400 employees ceased operations last night after a long death spiral. Island Air entered Chapter 11 last month following failure to make payments due on leases of their three Q400 aircraft.

Passengers who had tickets for flights starting today were directed to contact their credit card companies for a refund. Hawaiian Airlines is also assisting in re-accommodating those people affected. The company is honoring Island Air passenger tickets through November 17 on a stand-by basis.

Hawaii’s love/hate relationship with Island Air was long term. They were a local company that served Hawaii for nearly four decades. We all wanted to believe in them and many of us continued flying them. But over a period of recent years, lack of reliability on a fleet of changing aircraft, among a myriad of other problems, haunted Island Air. In the end we just couldn’t trust flying with them and stopped doing so several years ago. Inter-island service is thought of here in Hawaii in the same way as bus or train service might be elsewhere. It needs to be ubiquitously timed and virtually delay-free in order to work. Hawaiian Airlines definitely has that model nailed, while Island Air simply did not.

Future Inter-Island Airlines

Everyone wants to see another company fly inter-island. It just doesn’t make sense to only have one company the way it is now. Southwest appears poised to potentially be that other company, though time will tell if that comes to fruition.

There’s something we know in Hawaii as is demonstrated by these two recent failures. That is that our all-critical airline market is a very fluid industry, and one where it is hard to predict future developments. If we have learned anything in covering Hawaii airlines for the past decade, it is that we are probably in for more significant surprises ahead.

4 thoughts on “Airlines Serving Hawaii Are Down by Two | What’s Next?”

  1. If Hawaiian doesn’t take advantage of their monopoly and holds inter-island pricing steady, it could generate serious brand loyalty. Likewise if they choose to price gouge, people would remember and give the next carrier a jump start.

  2. Interisland air flights might be considered ubiquitous but it’s never been inexpensive, an issue that certainly confronts anyone considering the market. Perhaps Sothwest, with its long history in heavy short haul traffic might be a possibility. Interisland service is a necessity for any residents who need to rely on specialist medical care only available on another island and those wanting to visit relatives or friends or attend an event.

  3. Having flown as a commercial pilot for 30+ years (including being a B747 Capt based in HNL), I can tell you w/out hesitation that both of these used-to-be airlines were substandard. Personally … I’d never fly either (based on their business models and performance) and never did.

    I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but IMO they treated and paid their employees poorly. They both had below average customer service, and their schedules/availability was problematical. There are many, many other reasons why these two failed … but except for “cheap seats”, IMO we’re far better of w/out their “service”.

    Sorry to burst any bubbles — and agree or disagree — it’s just how I see it.


  4. I only visited Hawaii twice (nice trips but getting quite crowded it seems), flying Allegiant both times. Other than limited leg space and arriving too late to catch a shuttle (but taxi service was available and reasonable) everything was just fine. I had no complaints and fly Allegiant to other locations as often as possible. You won’t hear me leaving negative feedback for Allegiant because they help me take affordable vacations once or twice a year.

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