island air hawaii

Why Island Air Drops One Island and Returns to Another

Would you fly Island Air? Our experiences in the past include an equal mix of seriously delayed flights as well as on-time departures and great staff. With that said, we want to give the new owners a fair chance because competition in this market is sorely needed.

Island Air announced yesterday that it will stop flights to and from the island of Lanai at month’s end. The latest owners have changed missions once again, abandoning prior owner Larry Ellison’s plans to use the airline in large part to assure Lanai of air transport. This leaves Hawaiian Airlines as the only carrier serving Lanai and raises concerns about the cost of transportation to and from the island. If you have tickets to Lanai with Island Air, contact them for a refund or to see if they can help you re-ticket.

Island Air’s announcement came with its admission: “It was a difficult decision. However, as Island Air continues to restructure, we are taking a hard look at all of the destinations we serve and where our resources are best deployed.” — Les Murashige, CEO.

Series of Public Relations Nightmares Amid Myriad of Changes

This news comes just weeks after the newly reformed company said it will be returning to Kauai in March. Last year the company stopped all flights to the Garden Island to focus on other priorities. And in 2014, the company disappointed Molokai residents and visitors by its departure from the Friendly Isle.

Island Air also remains mired in negative public perception regarding its fleet and aircraft reliability. Island Air has five ATR-72 turbo prop airplanes that were purchased used and have proven to be of questionable dependability. As a result, we too have personally suffered from untenable delays waiting for Island Air flights. The company had hoped to re-fleet and there were once purchase plans for new and highly regarded Q400 planes. But ultimately that plan too was scrubbed.

Island Air is now owned by PaCap Aviation Finance and Malama Investments. Previously owned by Aloha Airlines, the company was a part of Gavernie Holdings from 2003 until 2013 when it was sold to Larry Ellison. Ellison sold the company this past January.

Questions that remain about Island Air

  • Will the company re-fleet?
  • Can Island Air be considered a viable inter-island alternative with its current limited routes serving – Kauai, Maui and Oahu?
  • Can the company survive having had 3 sets of owners with vastly differing missions in just three years.

Question: Will you be buying tickets on Island Air? Please comment below. 

8 thoughts on “Why Island Air Drops One Island and Returns to Another”

  1. Is it safe to fly on Island Air with all the management and ownership changes? I have a flight in June from Maui to Oahu and I am nervous to fly on Island Air since I’ve read that their planes are outdated.

    1. Hi Samantha.

      That’s a personal preference. They haven’t had any safety issues that we are aware of. Also they’re publishing their performance information of recent, and seem to be doing better.


  2. Going to Kona in July and want to see the Arizona. Want to know best travel airplane or helicopter. What kind of cost and time are we talking about? We are staying at Hilton at Kingsland. Will be in Hawaii for 10 days and this is our second visit. Planing on using concerge at Kingsland. Would appreciate any information which might help

    1. Hi Joanne,

      Need clarification. You’re saying you’re going to Kona but the Arizona Memorial is on Oahu. Are you planning an inter-island day trip? Not sure what this Kingsland you’re referring to is.


  3. I’ve flown island air once. From big island to Kauai with a short stop in Maui. We loved it, great service, and first time in that aircraft. The crew was fine, flights on time.
    Question 1: will the re fleet? I hope so. The q400 has proven good and Horizon / Alaska are dumping theirs in the next few years.
    2: viable. I don’t think so. I think people these days need a name they feel confident in when flying. Especially on a turbo prop over water. It doesn’t help Hawaiian feeds all the major airlines… I personally think Alaska should bye them, change name to Horizan , the name still fits, and feed American and Delta along with their parent company.
    3: see above 🙂

  4. Flying to. Kona in later part of June 22-29 when is the best time to purchase Tickets flying from East coast Philadelphia or Newark

    1. Hi Sonya,

      Most in demand time period. Suggest buying right now. Just over $1,000 with good connections or as low as $877 if you are willing to spend an additional six hours. On American.


  5. I hope it all works out! Just purchased tickets on Island Air for Kauai to Oahu RT. Fingers crossed!

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