Mesa Swaps Hawaiian Partners

 - March 30, 2009, 6:57 AM

Hawaii’s Island Air will fly de Havilland Dash 8s between Kahului, Maui, Lihue, Kauai and Hilo as Go!Express under the terms of a tentative code-share deal it signed with Mesa Air Group in late February. Mesa turned to Island Air after its current code-share partner on the islands, Mokulele Airlines, signed a deal with Republic Airways that saw three Embraer E170s registered to Republic subsidiary Shuttle America migrate to Hawaii and fly scheduled service under the Mokulele brand. However, before a planned fourth E170 made its way to the islands, Republic threatened to confiscate Mokulele’s entire operation if it failed to pay overdue installments on an $8 million loan. Mokulele made at least two of the payments and, as of press time, continued to operate with financing help from a mainline U.S. carrier. Mesa’s contract with Mokulele expires on April 28, at which point it plans to expand its relationship with Island Air.