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Island Air converting fleet to larger aircraft

  • STAR-ADVERTISER

    Island Air unveiled the Bombardier Aerospace Q400 in March 2006.

Island Air is revisiting its past and planning for the third time to bring Bombardier Q400 turboprops into its fleet after two previously aborted attempts.

The state’s second-largest carrier announced today that it is making its first aircraft acquisition under its new ownership group and will be phasing out its entire fleet of five 64-seat ATR-72 turboprops at an undetermined date.

Island Air said the first of three leased 78-seat Q400 aircraft will arrive in Honolulu by the end of this month as part of its agreement with leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Ltd. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter and the third is due to be delivered in April. Island Air, which has an option to lease two additional aircraft, did not disclose the value of the deal.

The airline, which was acquired by Honolulu venture capitalist Jeffrey Au and other investors in early February, had been looking at the Q400 as one of its aircraft options to overhaul its fleet.

“As we look to expand our regional route network and connect local residents and visitors across the islands, the reliable, operationally flexible and cost-effective Q400 turboprop is the perfect choice to take our airline to the next level,” Island Air President and CEO David Uchiyama said in a statement.

Island Air previously announced it would bring in Q400s in 2006 and 2014. Both times the experiment was short-lived.

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  • The current planes are great and give a solid riding experience. Most of the flights though are about 1/3 to 1/2 full so to eliminate the whole fleet seems ill advised. I use island air whenever possible instead of Hawaiian.

  • I always fly Island Air if going to a neighbor island. Great to have them flying to Kauai again, too! There’s always parking in their lot, and no hassle TSA, at least in my experience. It’s a nice old time reminder of how the airport used to be back in the 60’s….a lot friendlier and not such a rushed feeling.

  • Wasn’t there an article recently which indicated that IA is still losing money?, and here now investing in newer, larger aircraft? Maybe the plan is to structure less flights for fuller capacity? Does this mean there will be fare increases in the not too distant future as well?
    So three larger aircraft with possibly an additional two waiting in the wings; even with just three on hand what happens when there’s maintenance issues? Aiesoos this one!?
    Does less aircraft mean “lay-offs?”

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