State reverses controversial gate decision
Mesa will not have to use the more costly airport interisland terminal
Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group's new interisland airline will operate out of Honolulu's airport commuter terminal after all.
The state Department of Transportation told Mesa last month that its new carrier go! would have to use the more expensive interisland terminal and move into a portion of the space used by Aloha Airlines. The decision upset both carriers because the interisland terminal already is crowded.
Mesa announced yesterday that it reached agreement with the state to use the commuter terminal instead.
The carrier, which will begin interisland service June 9 with two aircraft, needed to keep its costs down. State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said usage fees per departure at the commuter terminal were $25, versus $92 at the interisland terminal.
In addition, there was concern that go!'s smaller, 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 planes could create a safety issue if it used the interisland terminal because passengers would need to enter and exit from the ground instead of a jetway as is done for Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines.
The commuter terminal currently houses Island Air, Pacific Wings and Mokulele Airlines, while Hawaiian and Aloha occupy the interisland terminal.
Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa's chairman and chief executive, said he was happy to get the matter behind him and said that go!'s bookings have been overwhelming.
"The response has been excellent," he said. "We've been booking close to 1,000 people a day over the last several days. Those are big numbers given the fact that we're about 80 days out."
Ornstein said go!'s location in the airport's commuter terminal is ideally suited.
"Our passengers will spend less time at the airport and benefit from easy access, convenient parking and less congestion," he said.
Both Mesa and Aloha said they were appreciative of the state's responsiveness in resolving the issue.
"We appreciate that as the airport landlord, the state is faced with a difficult decision in trying to accommodate every airline's operational requirements," Aloha spokesman Stu Glauberman said.
Brian Sekiguchi, state deputy director for airports, did not return a phone call.