New interisland fares to go as low as $43
Mesa Air Group Inc., which plans to form an independent airline to compete interisland against other Hawaii carriers next year, announced air fares yesterday as low as $43 one way.
The Phoenix-based regional carrier said it will keep its Hawaii fares low by using six Bombardier CRJ-200, 50-seat regional jets to connect the islands with service to Honolulu; Hilo and Kona on the Big Island; Lihue, Kauai and Kahului, Maui. The aircraft will be in addition to Mesa's current fleet of 181 aircraft.
The fares, which range up to $85.50 for one-way trips and from $86 to $171 for round trips, can be purchased on a one-way basis requiring no minimum stays or advance purchase.
"We want to make a statement to people that we really want to focus on winning over the local market," said Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and chief executive of Mesa. " We want to show people we want to offer affordable fares and reliable, high-frequency, quality service at the lowest possible price."
Ornstein said one of the reasons the parent company can do that is because the rest of Mesa's operation is profitable and the Hawaii operation won't have to subsidize any other part of Mesa's business.
Peter Murnane, chief financial officer of Mesa, said Mesa's published fares are half the published prices of Hawaiian and Aloha airlines. He noted that Internet fares from Hawaiian and Aloha may be lower than those airlines' published fares, but that Mesa also will have lower fares once customers can buy them online.
Mesa, which expects to begin its new Hawaii service in the second quarter, also said it can keep fares low by not having to subsidize unprofitable trans-Pacific service on the shoulders of its interisland passengers.
"As a low-cost, financially strong company, profitable for 27 of the last 28 consecutive quarters on a pro forma basis, we believe we are in a unique position to offer these great low fares," said Mickey Bowman, vice president of scheduling and planning for the interisland operation.
Murnane discounted some skepticism in the Hawaii marketplace that the operation wouldn't get off the ground.
"This is six aircraft out of about 190 that we'll have at the time that we begin," he said. "It's just a small percentage of our fleet. Not only are we running a profitable operation. I think it just puts us in a different position than others."
Ornstein said he is undecided between two names for the new airline and wasn't ready to announce his choice yet.
"In talking to some of the people in the Hawaii travel industry, one of the things that came to us loud and clear was that we shouldn't use a Hawaiian name," Ornstein said. "They said it has too many connotations from other carriers that have failed. They encouraged us to look at names that express what we're trying to do -- which is to provide low cost, high-frequency service -- and to tie it into Hawaii but not directly."
Mesa Air Group Inc. announced fares yesterday for the new interisland airline it plans to start in February. Fares listed are round trip and range depending upon the class of flight.
Honolulu to Kahului: $86 to $171
Honolulu to Lihue: $86 to $171
Honolulu to Kona: $93 to $171
Honolulu to Hilo: $93 to $171