Island Air held a blessing and naming ceremony today for the first of three new Q400 turboprop airplanes it is acquiring as part of a long-term plan to upgrade its fleet and expand the company’s presence in the interisland market.
Island Air owners, managers, and employees, along with elected officials, visitor industry partners, and other special guests gathered at the Island Air hangar off Lagoon Drive to bless and dedicate the new aircraft prior to its inaugural interisland flight tomorrow morning.
“The launch of our first new Q400 aircraft is a significant milestone not just for the Island Air team, but also for residents and visitors who travel between the Hawaiian Islands to visit family, conduct business and to enjoy our special island lifestyle,” said David Uchiyama, president and chief executive officer, Island Air.
“After extensive evaluation, review and comparison studies of different aircraft, as well as input from our pilots and operations crew, we reached the conclusion that the Q400 is the right aircraft that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers and provide them with the best interisland travel experience.
Island Air’s new fleet of aircraft will bear names that recognize seven core values developed by the airline’s team members and are integrated into the company’s mission and corporate philosophy. The first Q400 aircraft is named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do.” The names of future planes will focus on other core values including genuineness, doing the right thing, accountability, striving for the highest summit, trust and persistence.
“Like so many Island residents, our team members have been raised on key values that guide their everyday lives, including strong work ethics and commitment to one another and the local community,” said Uchiyama.
“In brainstorming names for the new aircraft, the Island Air ‘ohana wanted to reflect the values we strive to uphold while reminding us that each time a plane arrives and departs, we must always share aloha with our valued customers and never lose sight of what it means to Fly the Island Way.”
With the addition of the new aircraft, which will be put into service on Jan. 12, Island Air will increase the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kahului from six to seven, and the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kona from five to six. The new flight schedule also will see slight time changes in the six daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Līhu‘e.
Island Air plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400 aircraft and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service. The Q400 turboprops are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited. The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive later this week, and the third is expected to be delivered in April.
The Q400 has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet. The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advanced noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai‘i market.