Island Air sidelines its biggest plane
The carrier blames the increased interisland flight capacity and fare wars initiated by Mesa Air Group
Island Air, which last year announced with great fanfare it was bringing in three 78-seat Bombardier Q400 planes into the Hawaii market, said yesterday it was taking one of the planes out of service and postponing the delivery of the other two for six months.
The interisland carrier attributed its decision to the added air seat capacity that Mesa Air Group's go! has brought to the market, high fuel prices and fare wars that have drastically pulled down ticket prices.
"It is clear that go!'s recent $19 fare was a direct attempt to damage yield throughout the marketplace and a blatant effort to drive an airline (Aloha Airlines) out of business," Island Air Chief Executive Rob Mauracher said. "Island Air is therefore proactively taking prudent defensive measures to ensure we can maintain our position in the marketplace and continue providing quality service to our customers."
Mauracher said Island Air, which has four years left on its five-year lease with the Q400, is in negotiations to redeploy the aircraft but could not provide any more details until a deal has been reached.
He said the redeployed Q400, which joined Island Air's fleet in March, could return in the future. The other two now are slated to arrive next year.
"These measures will not affect any of our routes or daily flight schedule, which we will continue to operate with our Dash-8 fleet," Mauracher said.
"Our business plan remains the same: to focus on serving the Hawaii market and to build our niche markets with more direct point-to-point service and off-peak travel than any other scheduled air carrier serving the community."
Island Air has nine 37-seat Bombardier Dash 8s in its fleet and had been planning to retire some aircraft.
By taking the lone Q400 out of service beginning next month, Island Air will fill the void by using one of its spare Dash 8s. Mauracher said Island Air intends to operate with seven Dash 8s and one spare.
Echoing sentiments that have been expressed by the CEOs of Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines, Mauracher criticized go! for disrupting the interisland market with the $19 fares.
"There's a predator out there, and we're looking for the best utilization of our asset (the Q400)," Mauracher said. "We are not prepared to throw good money into the hole right now. The way the pricing is in the market, there's no rational way to deal with it. No one's making money with $19 fares no matter what kind of aircraft they operate, and no matter what they tell you."