Aviation historian talks about potential effects of go! leaving Hawaii

Aviation experts are not surprised by go! Airlines’ announcement today, that it will stop flying interisland on April 1.

The CEO of go!’s parent company Mesa Air Group said: “While this was an extremely difficult decision to reach, we believe it is in the best interest of mesa’s long term strategic objectives.”

go! passenger Ken Ciufo of Hilo said: “I like go! Airlines because of the size of the plane because it was a smaller plane it unloaded faster.  But I did have a lot of problems going back to Honolulu towards Hilo when we had many times when we waited hours of delay.”

If you have a ticket to fly on go! after April 1, the company’s president says they’ve worked out an agreement with Hawaiian Airlines to re-book most passengers on Hawaiian.

And if they cannot re-book you, they’ll issue you a refund.

Aviation historian Peter Forman said the announcement of go!’s departure from Hawaii is long overdue.

“I really expected them to disappear about a year ago.  They really didn’t fit into the market.  Their 50-passenger jets were far too expensive to compete with either Island Air’s turbo props or Hawaiian Air’s 717 jets.  They also had the excess baggage of having put Aloha Airlines out of business and so many people in Hawaii never forgave them for that,” Forman said.

go! started flying interisland in 2006, sparking an airfare war.

One-way prices dropped to as low as a dollar.

Now, you’re considered really lucky if you find a one-way ticket for $65.

KHON2 asked Forman: “What do you think the overall effect will be?  Will prices go up?”
Forman replied: “You know they might drift up a little bit, but I don’t think they’re going to be outrageous. You still have competition between two airlines right now and I think one will keep the other in a reasonable level.”

As for other effects of go! leaving the islands, Forman said: “Well I think in the short term you’re going to have to see Hawaiian and Island Air do some expanding to pick up a little bit.  Maybe go! has 10% of the market so they have to absorb that.  But in the long run, I don’t think it’s going to be too terribly different from what you see now.”

And of course, this will have an effect on the employees of go!

Mesa’s CEO said all of the employees will be given an opportunity to continue their employment with Mesa Airlines.

But that would require them to move to the mainland since they’re pulling out of the Hawaii market.

The aviation industry in Hawaii has been through a lot of changes in the past eight years, starting in 2006 when go! Airlines began service in the islands.

In 2008, Aloha Airlines went out of business.

In 2013, billionaire Larry Ellison bought Island Air so the airline would continue serving the island of Lanai, which he owns.

And last week, Hawaiian Airlines launched “Ohana by Hawaiian” — its turbo-prop service to Molokai and Lanai.

Related story: go! Airlines to shut down at the end of the month

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