Island Air ATRs Take Flight

Island Air pilots have taken to the skies in their new ATR aircraft. The first flight provided passengers with nonstop service from Honolulu to Lihue and was piloted by Captains Michael Yanovitch and C.J. Colburn on Feb. 27.

“This is certainly an exciting time for our company and our pilots,” said Island Air MEC chairman Capt. Monte Vories. “As we look toward the future and the many opportunities these new aircraft will provide, we are hopeful that senior management will capitalize upon those prospects and expand our services in the local marketplace. Island Air has the tools for success, and we expect to be a partner in its plans and share in its returns.”

The company held a traditional Hawaiian ceremony with its employees and members of the media two days earlier to bless the aircraft and launch its new operations. During this event, the company also announced that the acquisition of Island Air by Ohana Airline Holdings LLC, a private holding company owned by billionaire Larry Ellison, had been completed.

The pilots played a key role in this transaction. It had reportedly been contingent upon two items: FAA certification of the ATRs and new agreements with the labor groups. As the company worked to secure the necessary FAA certification, the pilots worked diligently to secure a new labor agreement outlining the terms and conditions for ATR operations. Though not an easy task given the circumstances, their efforts paid off, and a new pilot agreement that recognized the pilots’ contributions to the airline was ratified.

Island Air currently provides service to all the major airports on the islands of Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Kauaʻi. Under the new holding company, Island Air plans to expand service through additional aircraft and routes.