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Island Air gets green light to ‘go local’

U.S. Government’s approval of sale of controlling interest in airline means new local ownership and new local management team will guide airline’s future growth.

Ohana Airlines Holdings today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved its previously announced plans to sell a controlling interest in Hawai‘i Island Air, Inc. (Island Air) to PaCap Aviation Finance, LLC and Malama Investments, LLC, two investment companies managed by local investment firm, PacifiCap.

The government’s approval paves the way for the recapitalization needed to fuel Island Air’s plans to acquire additional aircraft and expand interisland service, and for a new local management team to guide its future growth and expansion.

OAH, owned by Larry Ellison, will retain a non-controlling interest in Island Air and will continue to partner with the new local owners as they move forward with a local management team tapped to oversee the airline’s expansion plans.

Dave Pflieger, who joined Island Air as CEO in 2014 and presided over the airline’s successful restructuring and turnaround efforts, will turn the reins back over to Les Murashige, who will become Island Air’s President and CEO, effective Feb. 8. Murashige was president of Island Air from 2012 to 2013 and has been serving on the airline’s transition team. Rounding out the incoming team of officers are Chief Commercial Officer David Uchiyama, a veteran Hawai‘i sales, marketing and visitor industry executive, and Chief Operating Officer Rob Mauracher, a seasoned airline executive who previously lived in Hawai‘i and served as CEO of Island Air from 2004 to 2007.

“Having grown up on Kaua‘i and lived in Hawai‘i all my life, I have a great appreciation for the importance of having more access and options for interisland travel,” said Murashige. “It’s an honor to return to the helm of this storied airline, and l look forward to working together with our new owners, our Board and the terrific men and women of Island Air to ensure we remain Hawai‘i’s local alternative for interisland travel,” said Murashige.

“It has been a genuine pleasure to work with Dave and the other members of the Ellison team to get this transaction approved and move the company forward. We are looking forward to continuing that partnership as we build a strong second airline for Hawai‘i,” said PacifiCap founder and Managing Director Jeffrey Au. “Our recent announcement to return to Kaua‘i and restore service and create jobs at Līhu‘e Airport is an indication of the great things we have in store for our airline and for the people of Hawai‘i,” Au added.

On January 21, 2016, Island Air announced it will restore service to Līhu‘e Airport with six daily round-trip flights to Honolulu, effective March 15, 2016. In addition to providing increased interisland seat capacity, Island Air’s return to Kaua‘i is expected to help boost the local economy by adding 32 local jobs on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

“This acquisition and recapitalization was facilitated by the outstanding work of Dave and the entire Island Air team. We are incredibly appreciative of Dave’s leadership and the operational improvements he and the team were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. We now look forward to taking the airline to greater heights,” said Murashige.

“It has been a privilege to work with the talented people at Island Air. I leave confident knowing that the airline and its fantastic people are in extremely capable hands. Together they represent the best of local ownership and local service – the heart and soul of Island Air,” said Pflieger, who is leaving the airline to work directly for Ellison.

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