Island Air shakes up tail feathers

Looking to shake things up at a time when owners and operators of at least two new carriers are preparing to make their entry into the crowded interisland air market, officials at Island Air unveiled three new, 78-passenger, Q400 jetprop aircraft at Honolulu International Airport last week.

“We are very pleased to share the new Island Air with you today,” said Rob Mauracher, Island Air chief executive officer, in a press release.

“We are bringing back fun and convenience to interisland travel, and we are confident that with our new planes, new look and new services, Island Air will be the best carrier serving Hawai‘i’s interisland market,” he said in the release.

Speaking at the news conference, Mauracher showed reporters the first of three new 78-seat, Q400 jetprop aircraft. He also unveiled the planes’ new interior and exterior designs, the most visible aspect of the airline’s new look, which also extends to new airport signage, a revamped Web site, and a new advertising campaign.

Mauracher also called attention to a series of innovative new services that have been introduced in recent months.

“This aircraft is a turboprop that thinks it’s a jet,” he said.

“The Q400 flies at near-jet speed, and has all the comfort and performance of a jet, but with turboprop economics, which makes it perfect for routes under 500 miles, like those we fly in Hawai‘i,” he added.

“The bottom line is it gets you there just as fast, but more efficiently.” Mauracher added that the “Q” in “Q400” stands for “quiet” because of the plane’s revolutionary noise- and vibration- reduction features.

“It’s quiet on the outside too,” he said. “The most community- friendly aircraft in its class.” He expects to receive two more Q400s by the end of the year.

Mauracher also unveiled Island Air’s three new tail designs, featuring classic Hawai‘i-themed designs: Island Beauty features a graceful hula dancer. Island Rhythm is a tribute to the ‘ukulele. Island Style features surfboards.

Island Air’s interiors are also being transformed, with a new color scheme including dark- and light-blue leather seating.

On the Q400s, seat and aisle dimensions are equal to or better than those of most regional jets, with superior legroom and generous overhead compartments, he explained.

The Web site, islandair.com, was redesigned with a new color palette and easier navigation. In addition to booking a flight, users can check in via Island Express Web check-in, sign up for e-mailed offers, and find travel information quickly, all from the home page.

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