Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Island Air
selects CEO

Robert Mauracher, a former
Air Jamaica executive, joins
the expanding interisland carrier

Robert Mauracher, a former Bombardier and Air Jamaica executive with a strong maintenance background, has been selected chief executive officer of Island Air, according to people familiar with the situation.


Robert Mauracher: Started working for Island Air on Monday, according to sources

Island Air President Neil Takekawa, 52, who has been with the airline and its former parent company, Aloha Airgroup Inc., for 32 years, declined to comment yesterday on his status or to confirm Mauracher's appointment.

Takekawa said an announcement would be forthcoming.

Island Air has operated as an independent carrier since May 11, 2004, when Gavarnie Holding LLC, a San Francisco-based family-owned company, completed its stock purchase of Island Air from Aloha Airgroup. Island Air had been a sister airline of Aloha Airlines.

Gavarnie is owned by Charles Willis IV, who is chairman, president and CEO of Sausalito, Calif.-based Willis Lease Finance Corp. Willis Lease Finance provides aviation services that focus on leasing commercial aircraft engines and other aircraft-related equipment.

Mauracher has connections with Charles Willis through Air Jamaica, where Mauracher was in charge of maintenance in the late 1990s, according to Bruce Nobles, a former president and chief operating officer of Air Jamaica. Nobles was a consultant for Air Jamaica when Mauracher was employed there. At the time, Air Jamaica had a spare airplane engine that it was leasing from Willis Lease Finance, Nobles said.

"I think he's a pretty talented maintenance guy," said Nobles, a former Hawaiian Airlines CEO. "I know he's done some consulting since then. I don't know if he's ever been CEO because it takes different skill sets."

Island Air operates nine 37-seat de Havilland Dash-8 planes on its neighbor islands flights. The company's new CEO has experience with de Havilland aircraft.

Mauracher, who sources said started his new position on Monday, also has experience with de Havilland aircraft, which is the type of plane that Island Air uses on its interisland flights. In 2002, Mauracher was the vice president of commercial services for Bombardier Aerospace, a unit of parent company Bombardier Inc., when the unit opened its new commercial service center in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. The center serviced and supported de Havilland Dash 7 and other aircraft.

Island Air operates nine 37-seat de Havilland Dash-8 aircraft on its 94 daily flights serving the neighbor islands. As of Sept. 30, 2004, Island Air was leasing five de Havilland Dash-8s from Willis Lease, according to a Willis Lease filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mauracher, a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic with more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, was general manager of the Bombardier Business Aviation Services Tucson Center from January 2004 until about four months ago when he "elected to pursue other opportunities," according to Michael McQuay, president of Bombardier Aircraft Services in Dallas.

"He worked for us for a period of time. He's a bright young man," said McQuay, a former executive vice president and chief operating officer for Hawaiian Airlines.

Bob Sundin, vice president of service centers for Bombardier Business Aviation Services, praised Mauracher's appointment as general manager at the Tucson service center at the time of his hiring a year ago.

"His experience in strategic planning, sales and marketing, material management and customer contracts will allow Rob to successfully lead the ongoing growth, performance and customer satisfaction initiatives at our Tucson facility," Sundin said.

Charles Willis declined to comment on whether Island Air had hired a CEO. Mauracher, who was in Island Air's office yesterday, did not return a phone call.

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