Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu) is targeting March 2018 for the launch of its full-freighter operations out of Honolulu to each of Kahului and Hilo using newly delivered ATR 72-200(F)s, AirCargoNews has reported.

The carrier already took delivery of the maiden ATR72-200(F), N811HC (msn 227) in September 2017 and plans to receive the second aircraft of the type, N810HC (msn 423), later this month. After the delivery of the third and final freighter, Hawaiian will add Kona to its dedicated cargo network. All routes will be operated as overnight services.

All three Avions de Transport Régional freighters will be operated by Empire Airlines (EM, Coeur d'Alene) under the 'Ohana by Hawaiian brand. The same airline operates a fleet of three passenger ATR42-500s for Hawaiian Airlines.

The Hawaiian carrier has already operated a number of test flights between Honolulu and Kahului using its only ATR 72-200(F) delivered so far, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

"The freighters are LD-3 compatible, which matches with our A330-200s. This will allow a lot of small industries around the islands to hook up with international markets," managing director of cargo Brad Matheny has said.

Hawaiian Airlines hopes to capitalise on the growing e-commerce freight traffic to and from Hawaii, connecting cargo loads through its hub to both Asia and mainland United States. Eventually, it will also look for postal contracts, although the next tender in Hawaii is not scheduled to open for another two years.

The move will see the Honolulu-based carrier enter into a direct competition with Aloha Air Cargo (KH, Honolulu). According to the ch-aviation capacity module, the freight specialist currently offers 280 weekly departures out of Hawaiian airports. It serves both intra-state routes in the Pacific archipelago, many of them outside Honolulu, as well as flights to each of Los Angeles Int'l and Las Vegas McCarran, using a fleet of four B737-300(F)s and one B767-300(ERBDSF), the latter wet-leased from ATI - Air Transport International (8C, Little Rock).