Competition appears to be on a direct vector toward the three airlines that now serve Molokai.
Hawaiian Airlines announced yesterday that it will enter the Lanai and Molokai markets when it purchases a “small number” of turbo-prop airplanes. According to the Pacific Business News, the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines plans to create a subsidiary to operate these planes on several of Hawaii’s smaller airports.
The report says that Hawaiian Holdings Inc. has a letter of intent to create a subsidiary carrier and to purchase a few previously-owned small planes. Speculation has been that this could represent three to six aircraft.
While the details of this plan have not yet been released, the airports it could serve include Hana and Kapalua on Maui, Kamuela on the Big Island, Lanai City, Ho’olehua and Kalaupapa on Molokai. Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian, would not disclose to PBN when the new airline may launch or the specific types of aircrafts it is considering buying.
Ingram did tell PBN that the decision to expand into the smaller turbo-prop markets, “… really goes to the economics of operating on routes that have lower demand, lower expected traffic figures.” He goes on, “We would envision operating this in a subsidiary that operates with that turboprop cost structure — not the cost structure (for jets).”
At this time, Island Air is the only airline that offers flights to Molokai on the larger, 37-seat Dash 8 aircraft. The two other non-charter passenger airlines that come to Molokai — Pacific Wings and Go-Mokulele — fly in the small, 9-seat Cessna Grand Caravan turbo-prop planes.