Island Air runs 250 weekly flights between four islands. // © 2015 Island Air
Feature image (above): Ohana by Hawaiian’s fleet features a Hawaii-inspired design. // © 2015 Hawaiian Airlines
Interisland airlines are helping clients maximize their Hawaii vacation with minimal effort. With flight lengths from just 20-50 minutes, carriers help travelers mix and match their experiences across the island chain, which is especially appealing to repeat visitors seeking new Hawaii activities and landscapes.
Here’s a look at the airlines currently hopping between the islands. Since the air travel industry is constantly evolving, check each carrier’s website for the most up-to-date information.
The biggest and best-known among interisland carriers with a fleet of 18 aircraft, Hawaiian Airlines has flown between the islands since 1929.
Routes: 165 daily flights between the main terminal at Oahu’s Honolulu International Airport; Kahului on Maui; Lihue on Kauai; and Hilo and Kona on Hawaii Island.
Aircraft: Boeing 717 jets. Hawaiian Airlines is retrofitting its jets with new seats to increase capacity to 128 passengers, with work scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.
What We Love: Onboard beverage service includes free tropical juices and water. Just before landing, flight attendants hand out free maps of the destination island.
Since billionaire Larry Ellison bought Island Air in February 2013, the carrier has made upgrades such as new check-in counters and live summer entertainment at Honolulu departure gates.
Routes: Daily flights between Honolulu International Airport (commuter terminal), Kahului and Lanai.
Aircraft: 64-seat ATR-72 turboprop aircraft.
What We Love: The carrier’s Island Weddings promotion gives couples and their family and friends a 10 percent discount on interisland airfare to destination weddings.
Makani Kai Air
This family-run company keeps its service small and personalized, with regularly scheduled flights as well as air tours and charter service.
Routes: Daily flights between its headquarters at Honolulu International Airport and Molokai (Hoolehua Airport). It also flies to the remote Molokai community of Kalaupapa, part of a package that includes a tour of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
Aircraft: Cessna Grand Caravans and Piper Chieftains, each seating nine passengers. Each seat has its own window.
What We Love: Makani Kai provides free ground transfers to/from Waikiki. Passengers don’t need to go through TSA screening.
Mokulele offers frequent service between main and secondary airports on five islands, as well as flightseeing and adventure tours.
Routes: Airports served on Oahu are Honolulu (commuter terminal) and Kalaeloa at Barbers Point. On Maui, the carrier provides service to Kahului, Kapalua and Hana. The airline flies to Kona, Hilo and Waimea-Kohala on Hawaii Island. On Lanai, Mokulele flies to Lanai Airport, and it provides service to Hoolehua and Kalaupapa on Molokai.
Aircraft: Nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravans.
What We Love: Mokulele is the only passenger airline flying in and out of Kalaeloa Airport on Oahu and Waimea-Kohala Airport on Hawaii Island.
Ohana by Hawaiian
Launched by Hawaiian Airlines in March 2014, Ohana by Hawaiian has a three-aircraft fleet operated by Empire Airlines.
Routes: From Honolulu’s main terminal, Ohana flies to Molokai and Lanai. It also flies between those two islands. From Kahului, it serves Kona, Hilo and Hoolehua.
Aircraft: 48-passenger ATR 42 turboprops.
What We Love: The fleet’s design was created by Hilo-based artist Sig Zane and his son Kuhao, who were inspired by Hawaiian’s interisland airline map and key aspects of island culture.