Airline Weekly

Daily Airline News

Hawaiian Subsidiary Ohana Latest Coronavirus Airline Casualty

Edward Russell
May 27th, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT

Photo credit: Hawaiian Airlines is closing its Ohana regional subsidiary. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines has pulled the plug on its regional turboprop subsidiary, Ohana, which had been temporarily grounded in January. The carrier cited a lack of sustainable restart options for the decision.

The closure of Ohana will affect 92 staff at third-party operator Empire Airways, and will drop three airports from Hawaiian’s map — Lana’i, Moloka’i and West Maui/Kapalua. The three cities will continue to be served by Southern Air Express subsidiary Mokulele Airlines, according to Cirium schedules.

“This is a heartbreaking decision … We took a hard look at the service and could not identify a way to restart and sustainably operate,” Hawaiian CEO Peter Ingram said in a statement Thursday. He added that Hawaiian did not see a feasible path to resuming Ohana flights before year-end.

Hawaiian has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline’s operations were severely limited when its home state closed to outside visitors, except those willing to endure a two-week quarantine, during the first seven months of the crisis. And even since then, many foreign visitors have stayed away from Hawaii due to travel or re-entry restrictions in their home countries. As a result, Hawaiian has pivoted to trying to new domestic routes, including to Austin and Orlando.

The Honolulu-based carrier swung from a $224 million net profit in 2019 to a $510 million net loss in 2020 even with relief from the CARES Act and federal payroll support programs. Hawaiian lost another $61 million in the first quarter and had 11 of its 69 aircraft stored — including its eight Ohana ATR 42s and 72s — at the end of March.

Ohana’s closure is the latest regional airline loss in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic. Compass Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines and Trans States Airlines all shut down in 2020.

But Ohana’s closure may not come as a complete surprise. In 2019, load factors on its passenger flights averaged just 52 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data via Cirium. Loads on Hawaiian’s mainline jet operations in Hawaii were more than 20 points higher at 73.5 percent.

Hawaiian launched Ohana’s passenger flights in 2014 and added dedicated freighters in 2018. The former continued to January when they were suspended due to travel restrictions among the Hawaiian islands, while the latter were suspended in November 2020.

Hawaiian is ferrying the ATRs to the U.S. mainland for sale, it said. And the airline is lending some of Ohana’s ground handling equipment to Mokulele for use in Lana’i and Moloka’i.


Already a member?

Already a member?

Up Next

Latin America

Mexico’s Viva Aerobus Announces Major U.S. Expansion

Viva Aerobus, a low-cost airline in Mexico, has announced six new routes to the U.S. from Monterrey, its busiest airport. The move follows the long-anticipated U.S. government decision to upgrade…

North America

Breeze Sees Softer Bookings as Airline Growth Outpaces Fall Travel Demand

U.S. airlines have scheduled too many flights this fall for the number of travelers, Breeze Airways founder and CEO David Neeleman said. This is pushing down airfares just as fuel…


Hawaiian Airlines Defends Tokyo Haneda Flight Rights as United Seeks to Expand

Hawaiian Airlines plans to resume all of its flights to Tokyo Haneda this winter that were suspended during the pandemic, CEO Peter Ingram said. The move comes as United Airlines…


U.S. Airlines Expect Further Easing of China Flight Limits this Winter

U.S. and Chinese airlines are eager to resume nonstop flights between the two countries following a diplomatic accord in August doubling the number allowed. They have proposed 63 weekly flights…


KLM CEO Rebukes Dutch Proposal to Tax Transit Passengers at Schiphol

KLM CEO Marjan Rintel offered a firm rebuke of a proposal in the Netherlands' legislature to tax transfer passengers at the airline's hub, Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Exit mobile version