HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After 37 years, Island Air has ceased operations.
Flight 449 from Kahului pulled up to Gate 76 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport at 11:30 p.m. Friday, about 40 minutes behind schedule. A half hour later, Hawaii's second-largest airline ended service.
"It was just an honor to be on the last flight," said Joe Kim, who flew as first officer on the final flight. "It's a bittersweet moment. You know, a lot of ohana, a lot of love out there, and it was great being part of another great team, and we're very sad to go."
Dozens of Island Air employees greeted the last four flights of the night, going out on the tarmac to meet each plane as it came in for the the final time. Even arriving passengers became emotional at the sight.
"It was like, nice to see," said passenger Annabelle Bowman Mohn. "It reminds me of where I worked back home. It was so emotional. Like if that place closed, I'd be really sad, too."
"It's great, just a sense of family -- everyone just seems like ohana getting off the plane," said Jason Simbrano after arriving on the last Island Air flight from Lihue. "I got a nice last 'chee hu' from Island Air on my GoPro."
Some Island Air employees got to be passengers on the final flight, and got to see their co-workers greet the plane as it approached the gate.
"First of all we haven't seen all of them in one place, ever. So they were all just gathered there. It was really nice," said Kali Piccoli-Wong.
"The flight attendants, the mechanics, the I.T. -- even the people from the exec office, they all came out. It was so amazing," said employee Mele Tautuiaki.
A group of flight attendants, still in their salmon-colored Island Air uniforms, left the terminal for the last time as the clock approached midnight, offering no comment except to say "Aloha." The final two flight attendants, wearing lei po'o, or head lei, hugged their co-workers and quickly left without saying anything to reporters.
"The end came rather suddenly, but we're all there supporting each other, and we're going to come through this," said Kim, before heading back to the aircraft to taxi it away from the gate for the night.
The final large group of Island Air employees left the terminal and crossed the street into the parking lot together.
"We just wanted to go with good spirits," said Piccoli-Wong. "We wanted just to be one, you know? We're family."