Interisland fares drop to $9
Mesa's go! leads the way in price cuts on one-way isle flights
Interisland air fares dropped to a new low over the weekend, when Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group's go! offered one-way fares of $9.
Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines both matched the fare.
The tickets, which became available Sunday for travel between June 1 to September 30, quickly sold out for most seats due to strong customer response, according to the go! Web site yesterday.
As of yesterday evening, none of the carriers would say how many seats were still available at the special rate.
Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and CEO of go!, said yesterday that the airline sold a record volume of tickets at the $9 fare, but declined to disclose the number, saying only that it was in the thousands.
"The results have been outstanding," he said.
Ornstein said by dropping fares, he was emulating Ryanair, a low fares air carrier based in Ireland that has taken the same tack in Europe.
"Ryanair has established itself as the low-cost carrier, and people have effectively stopped shopping and just go to Ryanair," said Ornstein. "We want to do the same thing, given that we are competing with carriers that have been in the market for decades."
Ornstein said the goal is to drive customers to go!'s Web site at www.iflygo.com, and to bring in first-time customers to become repeat customers.
The $9 fare is a new low for go!, which launched the new Hawaii airline with a promotion of $19 one-way fares a year ago, but typically sells them for $39 per ticket, with restrictions.
"We have to be creative," said Ornstein. "One way we think we can get recognition is by having these kind of fare sales. Once people try the service, they're going to come back and next time maybe they'll buy a ticket that's not $9."
The fare war comes amid pending lawsuits by both rivals against go! for everything from unfair competition to the misuse of proprietary information.
Hawaiian Airlines also laid off 98 employees last week, but it gave other reasons for the cuts, which it said left it with more employees than it had when go! entered the market.
Both of the older carriers have posted losses in their most recent quarters, and even historically profitable Mesa said earlier this month that it swung to a loss for the quarter that ended March 31. And go! has seen its load factor fall from 82.5 percent in its first full month of operation to the 60 percent range in recent months.