Billionaire Larry Ellison owns 98 percent of Lanai, but he no longer calls the shots at Island Air.
So in a surprising move today, the state’s second-largest airline announced it is discontinuing service to Lanai with the final flights to take place on March 31. Ellison, who bought Island Air in February 2013 to ensure adequate service for visitors to Lanai, sold majority control of the airline in January to two investment groups managed by Honolulu venture capitalist Jeffrey Au. The deal was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation last month.
‘Ohana by Hawaiian soon will become the only airline serving Lanai with regularly scheduled service.
“It was a difficult decision,” Island Air CEO Les Murashige said. “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.”
The stopping of service will be another big blow for Lanai tourism, which endured shutdowns of its two luxury hotels last year due to renovation. The 217-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai, previously known as the Manele Bay Hotel, reopened Feb. 1 after being closed for eight months. Four Seasons said the 102-room Lodge at Koele, which has been closed since June, will reopen between October and December.
Island Air, which plans to restart service to Kauai on March 15 after ceasing flights in June, said all of the 11 Lanai-based Island Air staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer elsewhere within the company.
Customers with confirmed reservations to or from Lanai on April 1 or later, will have the option to receive a full refund or have their reservation transferred to another airline. For more information or inquiries, contact Island Air at (800) 388-1105.