Hawaiian de Havilland Dash 8 operator IslandAir withdrew from a newly awarded Essential Air Service (EAS) contract to serve four mainland communities from Kansas City last month after deeming its plans to start operations in September “unrealistic” due to rising fuel costs and a shortage of trained personnel.
The DOT has awarded Hawaii’s Island Air the rights to fly three EAS routes from Kansas City International Airport now served by Mesa Air Group subsidiary Air Midwest. The Mesa-owned Beech 1900 operator filed a 90-day notice to withdraw from Joplin, Mo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and Harrison, Ark., on January 22, but EAS rules require it to stay until a replacement airline begins service.
Regco Holdings CEO Robert Deluce last month announced his intention to proceed with plans to base a new regional airline at Toronto Island Airport this year. The new carrier, called Porter Airlines, would fly 10 new 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops to 17 Canadian and U.S. destinations within a 500-nm radius of Toronto.
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.
Excess capacity created by Mesa Air Group’s Go! unit has forced Hawaii’s largest turboprop island hopper, Island Air, to ground its Bombardier Q400 only five months after receiving it from the manufacturer. Island Air has also postponed delivery of two more Q400s for at least six months while CEO Rob Mauraucher looks for a place to temporarily redeploy the first airplane.
Jonathan Ornstein has heard assorted descriptions of his management style during his years in the regional airline business, but no one can accuse the Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO of standing still.
Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop continues to steal the spotlight from the company’s regional jet offerings, most recently drawing a firm order for another four examples from Flybe during last month’s Paris Air Show. The option conversion, coupled with an order for 20 Q400s announced in January, will increase Flybe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft.
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!
As Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines drew the battle lines in preparation for Mesa Air Group’s planned June 9 incursion on their jealously guarded pieces of island turf, Hawaii’s most prominent RAA member, Honolulu-based Island Air, quietly hunkered down for the coming storm. Happily for CEO Mark Mauracher, the little but growing Bombardier turboprop operator can afford to assume the role of spectator.