Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu) will sell its fleet of eight ATR - Avions de Transport Régional aircraft after deciding not to restart its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian Essential Air Service (EAS) between Honolulu and the Hawaiian islands of Moloka‘i and Lānai, as well as its state-wide freighter cargo service, the company announced.

“Hawaiian decided to permanently end [the EAS] service following an in-depth assessment of the overall operation and its long-term viability. This is a heartbreaking decision, particularly for those of us who were involved in launching the business in 2014,” President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Ingram said in a statement. “We took a hard look at the service and could not identify a way to restart and sustainably operate.”

He said Hawaiian would have incurred significant costs and faced numerous obstacles in restarting service with its current fleet of aircraft. The soonest flights could have resumed was at the end of 2021.

Hawaiian said it had begun moving its ATR fleet to the US mainland for storage and eventual sale. According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the company had dedicated a fleet of four ATR42-500s for the EAS passenger services and four ATR72-200(F)s for the cargo flights. Hawaiian had provided unsubsidised EAS with up to 4x daily round trips from Honolulu to Molokai, and up to 2x daily rotations from Honolulu to Lanai.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian was operated for Hawaiian by Idaho-based Empire Airlines (EM, Coeur d'Alene Pappy Boyington). When service was at its peak, Empire employed 82 pilots, flight attendants, and maintenance personnel in Hawaii and 15 at its home base in Idaho. All 97 employees were dedicated to the ‘Ohana operation.

Contractor Worldwide Flight Services employed a staff of 28 to provide ground handling services. All other ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operations were managed by Hawaiian employees, who would be reassigned to other areas of the company.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian said it had lent some of its ground support equipment to Mokulele Airlines (MHO, Kona) which, on January 13, 2021, took over the EAS service to Lanai and Molokai in terms of an order by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Ingram, however, indicated the company would continue to explore other options. “We will continue to explore opportunities to return to and to reconnect the islands as Hawaii’s carrier.”

Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights in the spring of 2014, followed by all-cargo service in the summer of 2018.

The severe decline in Neighbour Island travel demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and state- and county-wide quarantine measures triggered a labour provision that led to the suspension of passenger and cargo flights. Freighter services were suspended in November 2020 and passenger services on January 14, 2021. Service between Honolulu and Kapalua was suspended in March 2020.

Hawaiian offers nonstop flights between Hawaii and 16 US gateway cities and connects the islands with Japan and South Korea. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaiian has suspended service in Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, and Tahiti.