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Hawaiian Airlines acquires turboprops to fly to Lanai, Molokai

By Dave Segal

LAST UPDATED: 4:13 p.m. HST, Oct 17, 2012

Hawaiian Airlines’ corporate parent, filling the only void in its interisland service, plans to inaugurate flights to Molokai and Lanai next year with its newly established turboprop operation.

The company said today it has completed the purchase of its first ATR 42 twin-turboprop aircraft, and has an agreement to acquire a second plane in Novem­ber. The ATRs, manufactured by Franco-Italian airframe maker ATR, will seat 44 to 50 passengers.

Hawaiian announced in July it was going to start a turboprop operation, but would not identify the type of aircraft it would be using. Hawaiian said today the ATRs are being purchased from ASL Aviation Group Ltd. of Dublin, Ireland, but did not reveal the purchase price.

The turboprop operation will enable Hawaiian to serve the state’s smaller airports and will put pressure on smaller rival Island Air, which is in the midst of phasing in a new fleet that will include the same ATR 42 aircraft model that Hawaiian will be using. 

Island Air has signed a letter of intent to lease five 46-seat ATR 42s, with the first two due by the end of this year. The remaining three are expected to join the fleet in the first quarter. Island Air also has in its fleet now a 64-seat ATR 72 turboprop, the second due to be delivered this year. Island Air is phasing out the three 37-seat Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8 aircraft in its fleet. It also plans to return the 33-seat Saab 340B plane that it is leasing.

“These (ATR 42s) are the ideal aircraft for service to the less populated islands in our state,” Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley said. “This new service will complement the B717 jet service offered by Hawaiian Airlines as well as provide the additional service that Molokai and Lanai residents have been requesting.” 

Hawaiian Holdings Inc. said it is currently developing the name and brand identity of the new turboprop entity. The parent company said the service will operate separately from Hawaiian Airlines, which flies to the mainland, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Tahiti and American Samoa. The airline will add New Zealand to its international routes in March.

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