New Airline Stirs Turbulence over Hawaii

Phoenix-based Mesa launched go! on June 9 as the third interisland jet carrier in Hawaii, entering the market dominated for decades by Hawaiian and Aloha airlines.

'That is a risk that any competitors should be and apparently are concerned about, and thus they match price even if their costs cannot match a new entrant competitor,' he said.

Mann said Delta Air Lines didn't take AirTran Airways seriously in Atlanta and allowed the newcomer to prosper.

Several companies have tried to start up in Hawaii, but were quickly squeezed out of the market.

Mesa, however, is one of the nation's largest regional carriers, with 182 jets, 5,000 employees and revenues exceeding $1 billion.

Aloha CEO David Banmiller has called Mesa's cut-rate fares a 'sham' and a direct attack on the livelihood of Aloha's 3,500 employees and their families.

'The scare tactics are just an act of desperation,' Ornstein said.

A group of Aloha, Hawaiian and Island Air employees called 'HERO' for Hawaii's (Airline) Employees Repelling Ornstein have created a Web site: .

Things got ugly last month when the group sent a T-shirt to Ornstein containing a scribbled insult to his Jewish faith, along with profanities.

HERO later apologized for the remark.

'The more they attack me personally, I'm not going to say it doesn't affect me,' Ornstein said. 'I'll be very frank. I don't like it. As a result, it may make us change our plan. If you guys want to make it to the death. Have it your way.

'We've been tame so far. Very tame.'

Hawaiian and Aloha are fighting back by aggressively marketing themselves as local companies with deep roots in the islands. They are hoping go! would just go away.

'We've been much more than simply another business doing business in Hawaii. We are woven into the fabric of Hawaii,' Dunkerley said.

Ornstein, however, said he's in Hawaii for the long haul with plans of replacing his 50-seat aircraft with more efficient larger jets.

'We have no huge plans of dominating anything. We want to carve out our niche,' he said.

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