Location: Kailua, Hawaii, United States

Peter Forman is the author of Wings of Paradise, Hawaii's Incomparable Airlines, a 400 page hardcover available online at .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Cause of Cuts at Island Air

A year ago, Island Air was flying high. Now the fast, sleek Q400s are gone and 65 employees are hitting the street. How much is new airline go! responsible for these reductions?

Few will argue that go!’s below-cost fares have hurt Island Air’s operation on routes where the two compete directly. But there’s more to the story. Remember that Aloha Airlines jumped into two traditional Island Air Routes, Kahului to Lihue and Kahului to Kona, as a means of escaping the financial bleedfest on routes served by go!.

Go!’s Joe Bock suggests that his airline isn’t the culprit since three of the five routes that Island Air is dropping involve Kapalua, which isn’t even served by go!. I’m not buying that argument. West Maui’s Kapalua Airport is a rather short drive from Kahului Airport, where $39 and often $29 fares are available. Would you take a short drive to fly at less than half the price? Many travelers to Maui apparently did, and that’s the reason why flights into Kapalua are coming up short on passenger counts. This is the second time we’ve seen this effect on Maui. More than two decades ago when Mid Pacific offered $25 interisland fares, Royal Hawaiian Air Service saw a reduction of travelers at its Kaanapali Airport on West Maui. History repeats itself.

One issue which cannot be directly linked to go! is the acquisition of the Q400 planes. Would they have been successful if go! hadn’t entered the market? Frankly, I haven’t studied the situation closely enough to know the answer.

With the exception of the employees losing their jobs, why is trouble at Island Air such a big deal? For thinner routes throughout the state, Island Air is the premier carrier. The new breed of competitors for Island Air, including go! express, will use single-engine, single-pilot planes in an effort to minimize costs. Personally, if I’m flying over the playground of the tiger sharks, I prefer two engines, thank you very much. I want to have this choice in the future, and I suspect many other travelers do too.


Blogger aieaboy said...

Single Engine / Single pilot over water is asking for trouble! I prefer 2 engines, 2 pilots over water.

I can play in the water with the sharks AFTER we park the big metal toys.

10:52 AM  

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