A new interisland carrier Thursday began selling one-way fares on its Web site for $39, sparking an airfare war in Hawaii.
Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group Inc. said its new "go!" airlines will start flying between Honolulu and Lihue, Kahului, Hilo and Kailua-Kona on June 9.
Mesa is one of the nation's largest regional carriers with 182 jets, 5,000 employees and annual revenues of $1 billion. Flying to over 170 cities under the America West Express and other brand names, it is the largest company to enter Hawaii's exclusive interisland market, dominated for decades by Hawaiian and Aloha airlines.
"It is strategically the most important endeavor that we've embarked upon since I've been with the company," said Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa's president and chief executive.
Hawaiian and Aloha both recently emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization and are responding quickly.
The night before Mesa's scheduled news conference in Honolulu, Aloha and Hawaiian announced they were selling a limited number of $39 seats through April 7 for travel June 9 through Sept. 30. That's nearly half the usual lowest fares.
Go! plans to use six 50-passenger Canadair RJ 200 aircraft initially and replace them with larger jets as the carrier builds market share.
Mesa, which operates Mesa Airlines, has been eyeing Hawaii since 1992. It is the latest interisland startup to compete with Hawaiian, Aloha and two smaller companies that operate turboprop planes, Island Air and Pacific Wings.
Hawaii Superferry Inc. also plans to connecting the islands starting next year using two high-speed catamaran ferries.
On the Net:
Go! airlines: http://iflygo.com
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