The history of go! Airlines in Hawaii is certainly a tumultuous one. Lawsuits and accusations of unfair business practices have come and gone. The latest move is likely to enable a bit of schadenfreude from those who still blame go! for driving Aloha Airlines into bankruptcy. Mesa, the parent company of go!, is moving the aircraft back to the mainland as of 1 April 2014, just two weeks hence.
Passengers booked for travel in April, May or June may be accommodated on flights operated by Hawaiian Airlines or request a refund. Passengers expecting to fly after 30 June 2014 should call the carrier or their travel agent to request a refund. The new (lack of) schedule does not appear to have propagated through all the GDS yet this morning.
In a statement Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein notes:
While this was an extremely difficult decision to reach, we believe it is in the best interest of Mesa’s long term strategic objectives, particularly given the Company’s ongoing expansion of aircraft in service with United Airlines and US Airways. Mesa will be placing into service 30 EMB 175 aircraft with United beginning in June 2014, and is adding 4 CRJ-900 aircraft with US Airways in 2014, having added 9 CRJ-900s in 2013. With the significant expansion opportunities in flying large regional jets in contracted service, we are re-deploying the go! aircraft to support our existing mainland operations. An additional factor that we accounted for was the long term increase in the cost of fuel, which has more than doubled since go! began service and has caused sustained profitability to be elusive.
I suppose that eventually an operation with no reliable profitability (lending credence to some of the accusations of inventory dumping and other unfair business practices) to be had has to stop trying. In the case of go! and Mesa, however, things are further complicated because the aircraft and pilots can be easily redeployed elsewhere within Mesa’s network. And given the reports lately about the regional aircraft pilot shortage and the new FAR 117 rules which increase staffing requirements it makes a certain amount of sense for Mesa to pull those crew back on to the mainland where the contracts with US Airways and United Airlines offer a more certain revenue stream.
This is also likely to be a boon to Hawaiian Airlines. They will now hold a virtual lock on all operations within the islands; go! was the last significant competition they faced. Island Air is still operating but their network is not nearly as strong as what go! operated. Mokulele will apparently also continue to fly some of their Cessna routes but the joint operations with go! will cease.
It will be interesting to watch fares in the coming weeks. Hawaiian was typically a bit more than the others anyways.
I flew go! once as part of a visit to Hilo and Kona. It was fine for a CRJ-200, which is to say mostly awful in-flight but we were within the “island time” margins for on-time operations and I seem to remember the local rum served on board was decent enough. I won’t particularly miss them, though the lack of competition in many island markets now will be worth watching.
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“…The lack of competition in many island markets now will be worth watching.”
I’d expect things to get pretty awful for Big-Islanders, since this makes Hawaiian the only way to any of the other islands [other than Mokulele’s super-limited service from Kona]. Maybe Island Air will be able to bring service back? Since their planes are smaller, it might be worth a try at extending a couple of HNL-OGG flights to KOA? It seems like a pretty small risk.
Other than that, I do have to admit I’m surprised that Hawaii has been able to sustain three carriers flying planes bigger than Cessnas for as long as it has.
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