New owners for Island Air

LIHUE — Island Air has new owners.

The airline announced Wednesday that PacifiCap, a local investment firm, will have “controlling ownership” of Island Air, said Russell Pang, a spokesman for Communications Pacific.

The deal, which is subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “will support Island Air’s successful restructuring and turnaround efforts,” which include adding aircrafts and expanding interisland service for the people of Hawaii, according to an Island Air release.

The airline used to provide flights to Kauai. But citing a record loss of $21 million in 2014 and stiff competition, the airline discontinued service to Kauai last year and left Hawaiian Airlines as the only major interisland passenger carrier operating at Lihue Airport.

Company officials could not comment Wednesday if they plan to resume flights to Kauai.

Based in Honolulu, PacifiCap is Hawaii’s largest locally based venture capital investment firm. It manages Hawaii-based venture capital funds, and investors include the State of Hawaii, nonprofit foundations, financial institutions, insurance companies, local and regional businesses and high net-worth individuals and families, the release said.

Island Air’s previous owners, Larry Ellison’s Ohana Airline Holdings, will continue to be a shareholder in the company, Pang said.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Mr. Ellison and his team to create a strong second airline for Hawaii,” said PacifiCap founder and managing director Jeffrey Au. “Like Hawaii itself, we may not be big, but we can be great. We believe that having local owners and managers will allow us to provide the kind of reliability, seat availability and service that our fellow kama‘aina deserve.”

PacifiCap’s Hawaiian roots are recognized by Paul Marinelli, chairman of the board for Island Air.

“(We) are very pleased that such a well-regarded investor group as PacifiCap, with deep roots in Hawaii, is now taking the helm,” he said. “Born from Aloha Airlines, Island Air has a long history of local ownership and local service and we feel honored to have helped preserve and restore its proud heritage.”

Island Air, which offers over 165 flights to Oahu, Maui and Lanai each week, was founded in 1980 as Princeville Airways. The company changed its name to Island Air in 1992, and has been serving Hawaiian airlines for 35 years.

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