Ellison's takeover of go! gets mixed reviews

Ellison's takeover of go! gets mixed reviews

Billionaire Larry Ellison's takeover of Hawaii's no. 2 airline is getting mixed reviews from consumers and airline analysts.

Local aviation historian Peter Forman says a merger between go! and Ellison's Island Air will likely mean lower fares because the combined companies will be financially stronger.

"I would think it's a good thing for consumers because neither Island Air or go! in the past has been viable competition for Hawaiian Airlines," Forman said.

"I think it would probably be a bit of a downward push on fares particularly with the turboprop airplanes which are an efficient airplane."

But other experts are not so sure.

"Any time you reduce competition, you impact fares," said Scott Hamilton, a Washington state-based aviation consultant.

"I wouldn't be surprised if air fares go up because you are now having the ownership of go! change from someone who believes in a low fare philosophy to someone who's philosophy in fares is not well known."

That concern was shared by several interisland passenger departing at Honolulu Airport yesterday.

"By taking over the two airlines, that's going to lessen the competition and then prices are going to go up. As it is the fares are crazy right now," said Kaimuki resident Tania Rodwell.

Some fear the deal will mean fewer flights and more delays.

"Not good. Already, we're always late," said Molokai resident Jerilu Heen.

"Always late for Molokai. I don't think it's going to be good."

Launched in 2006, go! airline is a discount carrier owned by Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group.

The company -- which flies 50-seat Bombardier CRJ jets -- entered the Hawaii interisland market with one-way fares as low as $19 that triggered a heated fare war that resulted in the 2008 shutdown of Aloha Airlines, then the state's second largest carrier.

Ellison, who purchased the island of Lanai last June, took over Island Air in February to boost air traffic to the former pineapple island.

"If we can have another much more consistent airline that's going to be covering these islands and bringing more tourists on and off on a consistent basis, it will be much, much better," said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.

The deal still needs to be finalize but sources said it's in the advance stages. From there, it will require the approval from federal and state regulators.

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