Sad news today that Island Air is eliminating two routes entirely, leaving only two routes and just one non-stop. Just a few weeks ago we pondered Will Island Air Survive? It now appears that question will soon be answered.
Effective June 1, Island Air routes will consist only of the following:
- Maui to Lanai – twice daily nonstop. Previously there were five daily flights.
- Honolulu to Lanai – twice daily connecting on Maui. Flights will now take 90 minutes instead of less than 30.
Service is eliminated between Lihue (Kauai) and Honolulu and all nonstop flights between Lanai and Honolulu.
Hawaii visitors and locals had high hopes for the company when it was bought by Larry Ellison just two years ago. Since then, however, problems have included:
- Failure to define and execute a successful plan to compete inter-island with Hawaiian Airlines, which also offers nonstop service to Lanai.
- Fleet of problematic ATR-72 aircraft. These planes have had reliability issues since the beginning, and are not as comfortable or desirable as Hawaiian Airlines B-717 planes for major inter-island routes.
- Aborted change in aircraft. Island Air previously announced purchasing state of the art Q400 aircraft to replace the ATR’s. Pilots were trained on the new planes, which made them ineligible to fly the previous ATR planes without retraining. In the end the Q400’s never arrived in Hawaii and what will happen to those has not yet been revealed.
It appears that Island Air will exist primarily to serve visitors to Ellison’s Lanai resorts who are travelling via Maui. On the other hand, Hawaiian Airlines has retained an advantage inasmuch as visitors will typically be flying from the mainland. Hawaiian Airlines can provide complete point-to-point service to Lanai from throughout the mainland and elsewhere.
We’ll see if this news becomes the invitation to another airline to begin offering Hawaii inter-island flights.