Island Air announced yesterday that it will discontinue all flights to Molokai starting on April 2, 2014. This is unfortunate news for Hawaii and Molokai in particular. But it is part of the bigger picture of airline competition.
When Hawaiian Airlines recently announced flights to Molokai and Lanai from Honolulu beginning in March, it became inevitable that Island Air would retreat. The company also previously stopped services to Kapalua, West Maui last year and to the Big Island in 2009.
Island Air still plans to compete with Hawaiian Airlines on Lanai service. While it has lost the battle with passengers transiting on Hawaiian Airlines from the mainland to Lanai, the airline should compete well with those visitors traveling on other carriers. To sweeten the Hawaii deal, Ellison has package offers that include Island Air flights with accommodations at Manele Bay Resort and The Lodge at Koele.
Here are the reasons for these changes at Island Air:
- Island Air is focused primarily on serving Lanai by bringing guests to the island. The airline is owned by Larry Ellison, who also largely owns the Island of Lanai through his acquisition of Castle & Cooke’s prior interests. Island Air has just opened a full-service lounge at Honolulu Airport where his resort guests can wait for flights. They can also check in to the Manele Bay Resort and The Lodge at Koele in the lounge and book activities and restaurants courtesy of an onsite concierge.
- The company is not in a position to compete with larger carriers like Hawaiian Airlines except where absolutely necessary as is the case with flights to Lanai.
- Direct flights from the mainland to Kahului Maui reduced the need for Kapalua West Maui flights. Most people choose to fly directly from the mainland to Kahului rather than travel via Honolulu as was the case in the past. Maui has direct service from all west coast gateways plus Canada and the US mid-west.
Beat of Hawaii photo: The Lodge at Koele on the Island of Lanai.