Island Air has completed its transition to an all-Q400 Turboprop fleet with the retirement of its last remaining ATR-72 plane, marking a significant milestone for the airline as it continues to expand inter-island service and grow its operations.
The achievement comes as Island Air prepares to celebrate its 37th anniversary of service to the people of Hawaii on September 9.
Island Air’s final ATR flight from Lihue to Honolulu touched down for the last time at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport at around 8:15 p.m. on Monday.
Passengers were treated to special in-flight snacks and refreshments, and raffles for future trips on Island Air were held on every ATR-72 flight throughout the day.
“We have been looking forward to this day when we could say ‘mahalo’ to the ATR-72s that have served our Islands well over the past four years, and to celebrate Island Air’s larger, all-Q400 fleet,” said John Riddel, who piloted the final ATR flight, in a written release. “Island Air’s 72 pilots are excited to fly the Q400s and having more passengers enjoy the superior Q400 flight experience.”
Island Air began its fleet conversion in January, with the acquisition of its first Q400 aircraft. Over the past eight months, the airline has been transitioning its five 64-seat ATR-72 aircraft out of service as new 78-seat Q400s took flight.
Today, Island Air’s fleet features five Q400 aircraft that provide more than 400 flights each week between the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island. A sixth Q400 is expected to be added to the fleet later this year.
“Having an all-Q400 fleet is a goal our entire Island Air team has been working toward as it will allow us to provide residents and visitors with the best inter-island travel experience,” said David Uchiyama, president and CEO of Island Air. “With a full fleet of Q400s in place, our team across the state is focused on continuing to improve operations, expand our service and offer more travelers the opportunity to ‘Fly the Island Way’.”
With a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour, the Q400s are 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops. The modern, 21st century turboprops feature a new, advanced noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother flight experience.
The interior cabins are roomier and feature reclining seats, larger overhead bins, more natural light and contemporary designs. In addition, the Q400s burn 30 percent less fuel and produce 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes. Their noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which is less disruptive to the community as the aircraft fly overhead.