Hawaiian Holdings, parent company to Hawaiian Airlines, rolled out its new interisland turboprop subsidiary, unveiling the Ohana by Hawaiian branding and livery designs during a ceremony at Honolulu Airport.
Operated by Idaho-based contractor Empire Airlines, Ohana by Hawaiian will launch daily, nonstop service this summer from Honolulu to both Molokai and Lanai using 48-passenger ATR 42 turboprop aircraft.
“Ohana means family,” Hadden Watt, the managing director for the new turboprop operation, told Travel Weekly. “And we wanted to stress that this is part of the Hawaiian Airlines family, that this product will come with the same high quality of customer service that you expect to receive when you fly on the mainline airline, and that it’s also part of the Hawaii community as a whole.”
Hawaiian has dominated the state’s interisland market since the failure of Aloha Airlines in the spring of 2008, offering around 170 daily flights connecting Hawaii’s four major islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island while smaller carriers like Island Air and Mokulele Airlines have provided regularly scheduled service linking Molokai and Lanai with Honolulu and Maui.
Watt said Hawaiian’s lack of suitable aircraft kept it from serving the state’s smaller islands in the past, but it was increased customer demand for the destinations that ultimately spurred the company’s new Ohana by Hawaiian product.
“This is a service that our customers have been asking for,” he explained. “The proof will be in the pudding, but we certainly believe we have a model that will allow us to have sustainable service to these islands and ideally allow us to grow.”
Hawaii residents will be a critical market for the new turboprop subsidiary, but Watt said offering visitors a seamless transition from mainland and international flights to both Molokai and Lanai is also an important focus for Ohana.
Increasing awareness, however, about what the two smaller island destinations offer travelers will be key, Watt noted, and Hawaiian hopes to improve visitors’ familiarity with Molokai and Lanai through marketing scheduled to commence later this year and also by building a strong partnership with travel agents.
“Educating the market in terms of the travel trade and consumers is going to be important,” he said. “And we will be looking to provide whatever help we can to the travel trade to sell Molokai and Lanai as destinations that people should be interested in visiting.”
Looking to add an “authentically Hawaiian” touch, the carrier worked with well-known Big Island artist and hugely popular aloha shirt designer Sig Zane for its new Ohana branding and livery design, which features a tradition-inspired kapa pattern symbolizing ancestry, family and transportation.
Zane and his son Kuhao, who also contributed to the new Ohana by Hawaiian livery, have also expanded their reach to the interior designs recently installed during extensive renovations to the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island.
“If you tour our corporate offices, you will see many, many Sig shirts,” said Ann Botticelli, Hawaiian’s senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs. “His design sense is hugely appreciated at Hawaiian. He has lots of fans here."