End Of An Era: Hawaiian Airlines Cuts Turboprop ‘Ohana Services

It is the end of an era in Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines has officially decided that it will not restart its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger or freighter turboprop ATR service. This service ran intra-island flights from Honolulu to Moloka’i and Lana’i.

'Ohana ATR
It is the end of the line for ‘Ohana turboprop services. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines ends ‘Ohana services

‘Ohana by Hawaiian was a turboprop service that ran small inter-island routes in Hawaii. Like how major US airlines contract with airlines to run regional flights, Hawaiian Airlines had a contract with a third party to run the operations.

Before the suspension of ‘Ohana services, the flights most recently ran from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to Molokai Airport (MKK) and Lanai Airport (LNY). The airline ran ATR 42-500 services for Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian Airlines has begun transporting the turboprop ATR fleet to the US mainland. There, the planes will be stored and eventually sold. Meanwhile, some of the ground support equipment is being lent to Mokulele Airlines, which continues to fly to Moloka’i and Lana’i from Honolulu.

'Ohana ATR
Hawaiian also marketed freighter flights using ATR cargo turboprops under the ‘Ohana banner. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

CEO Peter Ingram stated the following on the end of ‘Ohana services:

“This is a heartbreaking decision, particularly for those of us who were involved in launching the business in 2014. We took a hard look at the service and could not identify a way to restart and sustainably operate.”

Hawaiian ATR
Hawaiian is ferrying the aircraft to the mainland US. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

‘Ohana by Hawaiian was operated by Empire Airlines. At its peak, Empire employed 82 pilots, flight attendants, and maintenance personnel in the state of Hawaii. Another 15 were based in Idaho. All 97 of these supported the ‘Ohana operation.

‘Ohana has not flown for a few months

Hawaiian Airlines suspended freighter service using ATR 72 aircraft in November 2020. Passenger service with ATR 42 jets was halted on January 14th. Service between Honolulu and Kapalua Airport (JHM) ended at the start of the crisis in March 2020.

As a result of the crisis, Hawaiian Airlines had to cut services after triggering a labor provision that led to the suspension of passenger and cargo flights under the ‘Ohana banner. After assessing the airline and program’s viability, Hawaiian decided it was time to end the services.

'Ohana ATR
Hawaiian Airlines will not offer other services to ‘Ohana destinations. Mokulele Airlines will continue to serve the destinations. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian reached this conclusion after conducting an in-depth assessment of the ‘Ohana operation and its long-term viability. One of the barriers to ‘Ohana’s return was the cost and obstacles in bringing the current fleet of aircraft back to service. According to Hawaiian, restarting flights would not be possible until the end of the year.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Will Hawaiian bring these services back?

Hawaiian cited the restrictions state and counties placed on intra-island flying as a reason it suspended flights. The incredible decline in travel demand for inter-island travel has led Hawaiian also to reduce its mainline services.

However, Hawaii is gearing up to bring back inter-island travel. Just a few weeks ago, individuals fully vaccinated in the state have been authorized to travel inter-island without pre-travel testing or quarantines 15 days after their second dose of the vaccine or first dose of the one-shot options.

Hawaiian Airlines prefers to fly the Boeing 717 on intra-island legs under the mainline operation. Photo: Getty Images

In the coming months, Hawaii will likely also remove requirements for tourists from the mainland to travel to Hawaii and inter-island without needing to quarantine or engage in pre-travel testing. However, it is not clear exactly when that date will arrive.

In Hawaii, the ‘Ohana destinations were not the massive tourist destinations that Maui or Honolulu are. As a result, Hawaiian Airlines is not necessarily missing out on a large slice of revenue. Perhaps with a next-generation turboprop or efficient regional jet, Hawaiian could bring back the services in the coming years. For now, however, Hawaiian Airlines has decided it was not worth the costs and overcoming the burdens of bringing the service back.

Will you miss the turboprop ‘Ohana services? Let us know in the comments!