Island Air gains 4 mainland contracts
The carrier's two-year multimillion-dollar deal includes routes in the Midwest
Interisland carrier Island Air has been selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate commuter flights to four mainland communities out of Kansas City International Airport in Missouri.
Island Air, which had bid for seven cities, was notified Monday that it has won a two-year multimillion-dollar contract to take over Essential Air Service routes to Grand Island, Neb.; Joplin, Mo.; and both Harrison and Hot Springs in Arkansas.
EAS is a federal program designed to guarantee commercial service to small communities.
Island Air will use 37-seat de Havilland Dash-8s, the same type of aircraft it uses for its interisland service. The airline will be taking over those routes from Mesa Air Group Inc. subsidiary Air Midwest, which flew to those cities under US Airways Express and Midwest Airlines. None of the six aircraft that Island Air has in its Hawaii fleet will be used for the EAS service. Mesa is the parent company of interisland carrier go!
Air Midwest, citing significant losses and little prospect of future profitability, filed notice with the DOT on Jan. 22 of its intent to terminate its subsidized service in nine communities, including the four that now will be served by Island Air. Air Midwest had been using 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D turboprops.
Island Air, which expects to begin service in 90 to 120 days, will begin with one aircraft and build up to at least three. The airline will receive an annual federal subsidy of $1.5 million for Grand Island service, $1.3 million for Joplin, $2.4 million for Harrison and $1.8 million for Hot Springs, according to the U.S. DOT.
"We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring a taste of aloha to the Midwest," said Les Murashige, chief operating officer of Island Air. "As the airline industry evolves, so does Island Air in its decision to diversify. Hawaii will always be our home base."
Murashige said Island Air has increased frequency of service on its Honolulu-Kahului, Kahului-Lihue and Kahului-Kona routes, and next month will do so on its Honolulu-Lihue route.