Island Air’s CEO resigns
Mauracher will now serve as consultant to company
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Island Air Chief Executive Rob Mauracher has resigned after nearly three years on the job, but will continue to the interisland carrier in a consulting capacity.
Mauracher also plans to work with Charles Willis, owner of parent company Gavarnie Holding LLC and the chairman of Island Air, on projects in Willis' other businesses "for the foreseeable future."
Island Air's senior management team will continue running the airline, and there are no immediate plans to replace Mauracher, Willis said.
Willis also said he has "no intention of selling the company at this time" and that the airline is now marginally profitable.
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Island Air Chief Executive Rob Mauracher, brought in to run the interisland carrier nine months after it was sold in May 2004 by Aloha Airlines' parent to Sausalito, Calif.-based Gavarnie Holding LLC, has resigned.
Mauracher will remain connected with the company in a consulting capacity "for a number of months," according to Charles Willis, owner of Gavarnie and the chairman of Island Air. Mauracher also will work with Willis on projects in his other businesses "for the foreseeable future," Willis said.
Island Air's senior management team will continue running the airline and there are no immediate plans to replace Mauracher, Willis said. The management team consists of Willis; Willis' son Austin, who is president; Chief Operations Officer Les Murashige and Chief Financial Officer Leslie Kaneshiro.
In a letter to employees Tuesday, Mauracher said he was confident that Island Air "is stable and in good standing" and that under the current operational structure the company does not need heavy management overhead.
"It is an opportune time for me to pursue management opportunities that will provide new challenges for my personal and professional development," Mauracher said in the letter.
Mauracher, a former Bombardier and Air Jamaica executive, took over for longtime president Neil Takekawa in February 2005. During his tenure, Island Air added routes and aircraft before scaling back amid the interisland fare war precipitated by the startup of Mesa Air Group's interisland carrier go!.
Last December, Island Air laid off and furloughed about 65 full-time employees, or 16 percent of its work force, to bring its total number of employees to 350. Island Air also removed two aircraft from service, leaving it with six 37-seat de Havilland Dash-8 in its active fleet, and eliminated five routes to bring its daily flights to 75 from 103.
"It is no secret that the market has become unstable with the addition of go!," Mauracher said at the time. "Yield has been damaged throughout the marketplace, and we must take these proactive measures to ensure that we remain financially stable for the long term."
The elder Willis said yesterday that Island Air cut back last year because it lost "a lot of money" due to go! Today, though, Willis said Island Air is marginally profitable "in the face of three airlines (go!, Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines) that are bleeding red ink all over the place" in the interisland market.
"Island Air is actually doing very well," Willis said. "All things considered, with the environment we operate in, we're profitable. Rob has done a wonderful job navigating the turbulent waters between go!, Hawaiian and Aloha. The reality is we're about 40 or 50 percent of where we were a couple of years ago when Mesa came into the market."
Today, Island Air has 300 employees and uses five Dash-8s -- with another kept as a spare -- for its 75 daily flights to all neighbor islands.
The fewer number of employees compared to last December is due to attrition, Island Air spokeswoman B.J. Whitman said.
Willis said he has "no intention of selling the company at this time" and that it will remain in Hawaii "for the foreseeable future."
Until Gavarnie's purchase of Island Air, the carrier had been a sister airline of Aloha Airlines, which was owned by Aloha Airgroup.