go! Airlines sale could create competitive market

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Could Hawaii see stronger competition in the skies and lower fares for travelers?

That’s what some believe would happen if billionaire Larry Ellison buys go! Airlines.

It could be the strongest competitor Hawaiian Airlines has faced since Aloha Airlines departed five years ago.

“Neither Island Air or go! by themselves were really the kind of company that can compete with Hawaiian Airlines. Now you bring them together, it’s a much more serious effort,” aviation analyst Peter Forman said.

Just four months after Ellison bought Island Air, he’s eyeing another airline in Hawaii.

In a statement, Island Air CEO Paul Casey said, “We are committed to building a strong regional airline and part of that process is exploring all options including discussions with Mesa Air.”

“He going throw money to the system. I think that would be good,” traveler Michael Batungbatal said.

“It’s about time Hawaiian has some competition that’s decent,” traveler Kathy Kaulukukui said.

Creating competition will take some time, according to Forman. If Ellison goes forward with the purchase, he will need to decide what kind of aircraft to use and establish a reputation for the two carriers.

If people are surprised about Ellison’s possible purchase, Forman says the appointment of Casey to CEO of Island Air last month should have been a hint that Ellison had bigger plans. Casey served as the head of Hawaiian Airlines and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

“Because that’s far more CEO than you need for a turbo-prop airline to and from Molokai and Lanai,” Casey said.

KHON2 talked to Jonathan Ornstein, the head of Mesa Air Group. He could not confirm or deny a possible sale, but said, “our numbers have never been better.” He also said he’s expecting the “best summer yet” and is “pleased with business.”

Ornstein also said he would do whatever it took to create value and would not say no to anything.

KHON2 contacted Hawaiian Airlines, but have not received a response yet.

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