Island Air getting bigger, faster plane
HONOLULU (AP) — Island Air plans to start flying a faster, larger plane within Hawaii, putting it in a position to grab a bigger piece of the interisland market.
The Honolulu-based company’s first Q400, a turboprop plane made by the Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, seats more people — 78 — and is faster than Island Air’s existing aircraft, the 64-passenger ATR 72. The aircraft Island Air is leasing is new, which should pose fewer maintenance problems than the airline’s existing 24-year-old planes.
The company aims to swap out its entire five-plane fleet by the summer.
Island Air is Hawaii’s second largest carrier. But it’s much smaller than Hawaiian Airlines, which carries 84 percent of passengers flying between the islands. CEO David Uchiyama says Island Air had just 6 percent of the interisland market in the third quarter.
The company currently flies from Honolulu to Lihue, Kahului and Kona. Uchiyama said it aims to begin flights to Hilo this year.
The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops.