Island Air enhances transition, to resume flights to Garden Isle
The state’s second-largest airline, which ceased flights to the Garden Isle in June amid a company restructuring, will restore service with six daily round-trip flights between Honolulu and Lihue on March 15.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
Island Air is heading back to Kauai after less than a year’s absence.
The state’s second-largest airline, which ceased flights to the Garden Isle in June amid a company restructuring, will restore service with six daily round-trip flights between Honolulu and Lihue on March 15. Island Air’s return to Kauai is expected to create approximately 32 airport-related jobs on Kauai and Oahu.
DIVIDING THE SKIES
Island Air had the second-largest interisland market share in October:
||% market share
|Makani Kai Air
|Big Island Air
* Market share does not equal 100 percent due to rounding.
Source: Hawaii Department of Transportation
Honolulu-Kauai service will become the third interisland route for Island Air, which also flies between Honolulu and Kahului, and Kahului and Lanai. The addition of the new route is subject to the U.S. Department of Transportation approving the sale of the airline to Jeffrey Au, founder of Honolulu investment firm PacifiCap, and other investors.
Billionaire Larry Ellison’s representatives announced plans to sell the airline to Au on Jan. 6.
Island Air, which had served Kauai since 2004, is offering a “Welcome Back” fare sale that began Thursday and will run through Sunday. The “Welcome Back” fare each way between Honolulu and Lihue will start at $63 for travel between March 15 and May 31.
Island Air CEO Dave Pflieger, former Island Air CEO Les Murashige and Au are overseeing the airline during the transition as they wait for DOT approval.
“Recognizing that for many local people interisland travel is a necessity and not a luxury, this is an important first step in our mission to benefit our local community in Hawaii by providing more seat availability and more options for interisland travel,” Au said.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho praised the move.
“Island Air’s return to Kauai with service between Lihue and Honolulu is great news,” Carvalho said. “This will create local jobs and contribute to our local economy as well as provide another interisland travel option for our residents and visitors.”
Pflieger, who took over as CEO on Oct. 1, 2014, has been instrumental in restructuring the airline, which included a 20 percent workforce reduction, reducing service and canceling plans to bring in a new fleet. There has been no indication whether he will remain as CEO after the sale receives DOT approval.
”We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to demonstrate our new direction and commitment to create a strong second airline for Hawaii than to restore service to Kauai and offer local residents and visitors an even greater choice in air travel,” Pflieger said.
Island Air, which briefly dropped to third place behind Mokulele Airlines in interisland market share this past summer, has regained its No. 2 spot with a 4 percent share in October, according to the latest data available from the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Hawaiian Airlines ranks first at 91.8 percent with Mokulele Airlines now third at 3.1 percent. Makani Kai Air is fourth at 1 percent.
The addition of Kauai service should strengthen Island Air’s No. 2 market share.
“Having grown up on Kauai and returning home often to visit family, I deeply appreciate the importance of having access to interisland travel options,” Murashige said.