With Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines being the only two airlines left operating inter-island flights, there is a possibility for a new airline to fill the gap left by Island Air.
Cash-strapped Island Air, Hawaii's second-largest inter-island carrier, has announced it will halt all service at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The closure comes just three weeks after the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Discovery Airways, Mahalo Air, Mid Pacific Air and Pacific Wings are others that failed.
"We appreciate the outpouring of support from so many local businesses that want to provide opportunities for our employees", said David Uchiyama, president and chief executive officer of Island Air. "We will need to work through this day with our heads held high, knowing that we did all that we could do to provide an affordable alternative to interisland travel". "Starting Nov. 11 through 17, Island Air guests holding a confirmed reservation to/from/via Honolulu, Oahu (HNL); Kahului, Maui (OGG); Kona, Hawaii Island (KOA); and Lihue, Kauai (LIH) can standby for Coach Class seating on Hawaiian's regularly scheduled flights between the same origin and destination cities on the ticketed day of departure".
The fare is available to Island Air customers holding tickets for flights between November 11 and November 17.
Cecilia Swanson of Waipahu had purchased a $149.99 round-trip ticket to visit her brother in Kona during Thanksgiving weekend.
Hawaii Island Air, Island Air's parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection October 16 in an effort to continue operations following threats of legal action by the lessors of the airline's new 78-seat Bombardier Q-400 turboprops to repossess three aircraft.
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For refunds, the airline is asking passengers to contact their credit card companies.
The shutdown of the airline also marked the loss of jobs for Island Air's employees.
"One of the reasons why Island Air is going out of business is because its (de Havilland) Dash-8 airplanes, which had been profitable for them in the earlier years, seated less than 40 passengers", he said.
It directed passengers to a toll-free number.
Hawaiian Airlines said it will honor Island Air tickets for the next week on a standby basis. In 1995, the airline had changed the name to Island Air.