Prospective interisland carrier shuts down
FlyHawaii Airlines, the startup interisland carrier that had planned to begin service next year, has laid off most of its 20-member work force and closed its office in Topa Tower in downtown Honolulu.
The move was made a week ago, leaving only about three employees to wrap up operations, according to a source familiar with the situation.
FlyHawaii, the brainchild of Lion Coffee founder James Delano, lost its primary investors last month when a group that included America Online founder Steve Case decided against buying into the carrier shortly after Phoenix-based regional carrier Mesa Air Group Inc. announced plans to enter the Hawaii interisland market early next year. Other investors also decided to wait to gauge Mesa's impact and to see whether Aloha Airlines emerges from reorganization.
FlyHawaii intends to remain dormant while it evaluates interisland market conditions.
Grove Farm Co., owned by Case, was looking at investing in FlyHawaii along with Case and Maui Land & Pineapple Co., of which Case is the largest shareholder.
FlyHawaii, which announced its arrival with great fanfare in March, had planned to use ATR-72 turboprop aircraft that can seat 68 passengers. The airline was to have begun service from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui, and gradually expand to the other islands.
FlyHawaii's phones have been disconnected and Delano did not return a message left on his cell phone.