Island Air to get at least two new turboprop craft

Island Air has put in an order for two Bombardier Q400 NexGen 71-seat turboprop planes with an option for four others, the aircraft maker said Monday.

The two planes will cost the airline – which flies between Maui, Lanai, Oahu and Kauai – about $61 million; if all the planes are ordered, the total cost will be about $188 million, the news release said.

“As part of our ongoing restructuring and expansion strategy, the Island Air team considered a number of aircraft, and we are pleased to announce the selection of the Q400 NextGen turboprop,” said Paul Casey, president and chief executive officer of Island Air.

He cited the model’s “superior speed,” fuel efficiency, operational flexibility and passenger comfort in selecting the plane.

“The Q400 NextGen aircraft is the optimal solution for our needs,” he said.

Island Air’s owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, said that the airline was “pleased to partner with Bombardier. . . . to redefine regional travel within the Hawaiian Islands and offer our passengers the premium product they expect.”

Ellison, who owns most of Lanai, said that his “experience with Bombardier over the years has been nothing but positive, which has further led to our selection of the Q400 NextGen aircraft for the next chapter of Island Air.”

The Q400 NextGen aircraft is built at Bombardier’s Toronto facility and is targeted for short-haul turboprop markets, Bombardier said.

The airline is currently flying the 64-seat ATR 72 212 series aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop built by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Regional consortium, according to the Island Air website.

Island Air is the second oldest carrier in the Hawaiian Islands, after Hawaiian Airlines. The airline began in 1980 as Princeville Airways, flying between Honolulu and Princeville on Kauai with two DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft. In February 2013, Island Air was purchased by Ellison’s company, Ohana Airline Holdings.

About a year ago, Island Air phased out its fleet of Dash 8 aircraft, replacing them with the ATR 72. That meant that the airline could no longer fly into Kapalua West Maui Airport. Island Air ended service to Molokai in February.

The announcement of the aircraft purchase comes as go! airlines stops flying today. That airline began flying in Hawaii in June 2006 and decided to end its operations in Hawaii to concentrate on its Mainland markets.

The go! website noted that its reservation center is receiving a high volume of calls and passengers seeking a refund are encouraged to use the automated refund tool at