HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Citing competition and record losses, Island Air announced it will close operations in Lihue effective June 1. It will also cut the number of flights from Honolulu to Lana'i in half.
There will also be staffing cuts.
In a press release, CEO Dave Pflieger stated there will be a workforce reduction of approximately 20%, management included. On its website, Island claims to have 340 employees. That would mean approximately 70 jobs would be lost.
Consumers are losing out as well. Ken Gray said he flies to and from Kauai monthly.
"It's going to be bad for us because Hawaiian's going to have all control so they can charge what they want," he said.
Fellow Garden Island resident Paulette Yam agreed.
"Hawaiian's going to capitalize, which is kinda junk for the people on the islands."
One aviation expert we spoke to said the solution to Island's problems won't be an easy fix. Island's fleet is listed as five ATR-72 twin turboprops each with a 64-seat capacity. Pater Forman says they're a poor fit for the routes the airline flies.
"[The] current airplanes, the ATR's are too big for the small markets and they're really not nice enough on the big markets to compete with Hawaiian's jets."
Pflieger stated Island will NOT take delivery of any new planes, as previously planned. It instead will negotiate long-term to obtain other aircrafts. Cost reduction, hangar repairs, improved schedules, marketing, advertising, pricing and management are all being looked at.