BREAKING: Island Air to Discontinue Service to Lānaʻi

March 1, 2016, 4:15 PM HST · Updated March 2, 5:27 AM
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Island Air courtesy photo.

Island Air courtesy photo.

Island Air today announced that it will discontinue service to Lāna‘i with the last flights to and from Lāna‘i scheduled to take place on March 31, 2016.

“It was a difficult decision. 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,” said Les Murashige, CEO of Island Air.

Company executives say all of the 11 Lāna‘i-based Island Air staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer elsewhere within the company.

“We appreciate and thank all of our employees who have provided impeccable service and our customers who have supported Island Air over the years,” said Murashige.

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Customers with confirmed reservations to or from Lāna‘i on April 1 or later, will have the option to receive a full refund or have their reservation transferred to another airline.

“I’m both dismayed and disappointed by Island Air’s announcement to discontinue service to Lāna‘i,” said Sen. J. Kalani English, whose Senate District 7 includes Lāna‘i. He released a statement following the announcement saying:

“While I understand the financial challenges that played into the decision, my main concern is for the residents of Lāna‘i who depend on air travel for essential activities such as business and medical appointments. Significant steps are being made towards revitalizing Lāna‘i to become a prominent tourism destination and I hope this doesn’t deter from that progress.  My hope is that reliable air service will continue to Lāna‘i and as Island Air works to stabilize its business, the company will reconsider resuming interisland flights to the island.”

Representative Lynn DeCoite who serves House District 13 (which includes the areas of Haʻiku, Hāna, Kaupō, Kīpahulu, Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Molokini, Lānaʻi and Moloka’i) responded to the news expressing disappointment and concern.  She released the following statement this afternoon:

“I am very disappointed about Island Air’s announcement that they will be ending services to Lānaʻi at the end of the month.  I am concerned for my constituents, the residents of Lānaʻi, who are already slighted by many other services that the residents of other islands don’t have to worry about.  I am concerned that this leaves only one other airline offering flights and am worried about the effect this will have on ticket pricing and the limited fight schedules.

Lānaʻi residents need to be able to travel for doctors’ appointments, business meetings, school and athletic functions and just to shop for basic household essentials.  They also count on air travel for services coming in to the island. The limited flights already have adverse effects on the community- I am worried that losing more flight services will be an undue burden on the residents who have been struggling to maintain their community.

As air schedule is now, If I need to travel to Lānaʻi for meeting with my constituents I have very few flight options from HNL to LNY where I may have to layover in Maui before reaching HNL on the return trip.  This limits my ability to speak face to face with members of my district, see their needs first hand and fully understand their concerns.  Lānaʻi is a very unique community with unique concerns and issues, some that you actually have to see in person, before you can fully understand the issue or the community need.  Losing flight services limits their ability to advocate for themselves and have access to their elected officials at all levels of government.

I have spoken with representatives from Island Air and I understand their business concerns and their need to run a profitable business.

I hope that the one remaining airline, ʻOhana by Hawaiian, will step up and offer more flights in and out of Lānaʻi and use this as an opportunity to expand services for the Lānaʻi community and its visitors.”

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Earlier this month, ʻOhana Airlines Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Island Air, announced that the US Department of Transportation had approved its previously announced plans to sell a controlling interest in Hawaiʻi Island Air, Inc., which does business as Island Air.

The sale was to PaCap Aviation Finance, LLC and Mālama Investments, LLC, two investment companies managed by local investment firm, PacifiCap.

At the time, airline executives said the government’s approval “paves the way for the recapitalization needed to fuel Island Air’s plans to acquire additional aircraft and expand interisland service.”  The announcement also states that the approval sets the stage for a new local management team to guide the airline’s future growth and expansion.

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