Mesa Air Group’s latest code-share partner, Kona, Hawaii-based Mokulele Airlines, flew its first scheduled flight as go!Express last month with a new nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan. On April 16 Mokulele began flying 12 times a day between Kona and Kahului, Kahului and Kapalua, and Kapalua and Honolulu for Mesa’s go! unit, which continues to serve five Hawaiian destinations with Bombardier CRJ200s.
Jonathan Ornstein rarely goes more than a few weeks without making headlines in the aviation press, but the fiery CEO of Mesa Air Group outdid himself last year with the launch of his new Go! subsidiary in Hawaii.
Honolulu-based de Havilland Dash 8 operator Island Air suffered the first serious casualty of Mesa Air Group’s incursion into Hawaii last month when CEO Rob Mauraucher announced he planned to furlough or lay off 65 full-time employees, remove two aircraft from service and eliminate five of the regional airline’s 17 routes.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Faris last month denied Hawaiian Airlines’ request for a preliminary injunction to suspend inter-island service by Mesa Air Group’s Go! subsidiary, citing Hawaiian’s failure to meet the “stringent standard” required for such a severe measure.
Mesa Air Group has now taken aim at a less visible target within the inter-island Hawaiian market, much to the dismay of incumbent turboprop stalwarts Island Air and Pacific Wings. By agreeing to enter a new code-share deal last month with Kona-based Mokulele Airlines, Mesa’s go!
In what promises to unfold as another controversial chapter in Jonathan Ornstein’s colorful tenure as CEO of Mesa Air Group, the Phoenix-based regional carrier and Hawaiian Airlines have locked legal horns over the fiery chief executive’s plan to enter the inter-island Hawaiian market this spring with 50-seat Bombardier CRJs.
Jonathan Ornstein’s mission to sink at least one of Hawaii’s two major airlines officially begins June 9, when Mesa Air Group’s new Go! subsidiary starts flying 16 daily round trips with three Bombardier CRJ200s from Honolulu to Kona, Kahului in Maui and Kauai for $39 each way. On June 30, as it adds service from Honolulu to Hilo, it plans to nearly double service to 31 round trips a day and increase the CRJ fleet to five.
Mesa Air Group CEO Jonathan Ornstein reported that load factors at his new inter-island Hawaiian market entrant dubbed Go! “significantly exceeded…expectations” during its first week of operation. Offering $19 introductory fares, Go! launched service with a pair of Bombardier CRJ200s on June 9 from Honolulu to Kona, Maui and Kauai, firing its first salvos in a fare war that saw rival Aloha Airlines give away 1,000 tickets. Most recently, Go!
A bankruptcy court judge has set a date of August 4 to hear arguments related to Hawaiian Airlines’ request to bar Mesa Air Group subsidiary Go! from selling tickets for inter-island travel for one year. The motion for a preliminary injunction, filed in late June, cites Mesa’s alleged misuse of confidential information disclosed during Hawaiian’s 2004 bankruptcy.
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