Three Decades of Island Air

The Hawaiian airliner continues to remain competitive By: Marty Wentzel
Thirty year-old Island Air stays competitive with its support of local commuinities and commitment to service. // (c) 2010 Island Air
Thirty year-old Island Air stays competitive with its support of local commuinities and commitment to service. // (c) 2010 Island Air

The Details

It’s been 30 years since Island Air started flying in Hawaii and today, it continues to remain competitive with new offers while maintaining its focus on service across the island chain.

When the carrier was established in 1980 as Princeville Airways, it flew Twin Otters between Honolulu and Princeville, Kauai. Today, as Island Air, it operates De Havilland Dash 8s with 328 weekly flights between the islands of Oahu (Honolulu International Airport), Maui (Kahului Airport and West Maui’s Kapalua Airport), Molokai (Hoolehua Airport), Lanai (Lanai City Airport), Kauai (Lihue Airport) and Hawaii’s Big Island (Kona International Airport).

Throughout the decades, the Honolulu-based airline has weathered an ever-changing economic climate that has seen other interisland carriers come and go. Some of the credit for its longevity goes to its support of local communities as well as its warm and personalized service for its customers.

But it also helps that Island Air has stayed creative and up-to-date with its offerings. For instance, it recently extended its partnership with “Cirque Polynesia,” a 75-minute live show at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. “Cirque Polynesia” features masters of balance, quick-change transformations, aerial illusionists and acrobats, including two members of the world-renowned Flying Wallendas who perform death-defying high-wire acts some 40 feet in the air.

Because Island Air provides the most daily flights to West Maui’s Kapalua Airport — which is  just a short drive from the Hyatt — it is giving clients one free child’s admission to the show with the purchase of one adult ticket. The joint effort encourages tourism on Maui’s Kaanapali Coast, said Island Air chief executive officer, Lesley Kaneshiro.

“By teaming up with ‘Cirque Polynesia,’ we’re looking to give people even more incentive to experience an exciting show, as well as check out other activities and great restaurants along the beautiful Kaanapali Coast,” said Kaneshiro.

In another clever cross-marketing initiative, Island Air serves its clients beverages from Coffees of Hawaii, made from beans grown on Molokai, Maui and the Big Island. Clients who fly on the carrier get a 20 percent discount on all Coffees of Hawaii purchases.

Meanwhile, Island Air recently launched a mobile version of its website which is designed to meet the needs of today’s fast-paced high-tech customers. In recognition of the growing popularity of touch-screen mobile phones with Internet access, the new website mode accommodates the smaller screens and slower download speeds of mobile phones. Clients can access the site from any device, such as an iPhone, Android or Palm Pre; the site automatically detects the use of a touch-screen phone and serves up the correct Web page format. Clients can learn how to use the key features of the mobile site at the top of the mobile phone home page.

With an eye toward the future, Island Air recently named its fleet in conjunction with its 30th anniversary. Each plane now carries a special name, including Kumakani (windbreak), Hokupaa  (North Star), Holomua (move forward) and Niau (move smoothly) — fitting designations for a high-flying company with deep roots in the islands.

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