‘Smilie’ excited about Island Air’s return

LIHUE — Jacob “Smilie” Punzal said this is the first time he has been hired by Island Air.

He couldn’t be happier.

“The return of Island Air, and the anticipated opening of Aurai Fitness — it can’t get more exciting than that,” he said.

Punzal was being trained by Island Air ahead of its return of flights to Kauai starting Tuesday morning at the Lihue Airport.

Island Air announced that it has hired 27 employees, including 19 from Kauai and eight from Oahu, in preparation of restoring service to Lihue.

“We are extremely proud to welcome these talented and dedicated individuals to our Island Air ohana,” said Les Murashige, Island Air’s president and CEO, a Kauai boy who formerly delivered The Garden Island newspaper. “In anticipation of our relaunch of service to Kauai, the returning employees and the new hires have been undergoing extensive training and working toward our shared goal of providing customers with the best interisland travel experience.”

Within the announced group, eight are returning team members who previously worked for Island Air.

Leina Alcos, with eight years of service with Island Air, is the Lihue Airport station manager. She is joined by other experienced people, including Rocki Palau who comes back after four years of service as a customer service shift supervisor. Kalani Ubongen-Kahahawai returns with two years of service as another customer service shift supervisor.

Piilani Nero, U‘i Leanio, Tricia Araneta, Albert Carcueva, and Wayne Doliente all have one year of service with Island Air and fill in customer service and ramp positions.

Punzal is one of the new hires, filling in a customer service agent position. He is joined by other hires including Alex Cadiz, Dylan Kuwamura, Tammilyn Nishimoto, Kristine Visitacion, Kawehi Ho‘omanawanui, Chilan Bukoski, Lauren Denton, Kevin Pongasi, Shylo Trujillo and Harry “Kaliko” Wa‘ahila Jr. who fill in customer service and ramp positions.

Island Air will resume service to Kauai on Tuesday with six daily round-trip flights between Honolulu and Lihue with connecting flights to Kahului, Maui.

The check-in counter at Lihue Airport is in Lobby A between the West Jet and United Airlines counters. Flights will arrive and deport from Gate 7.

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