Island Air, one of Hawaii’s regional carriers, announced yesterday it will be doubling its operations beginning next month, when the first of seven planes will be added to its fleet. Instead of the combined 144 seats Island Air currently offers with its four aircrafts, it will soon be able to offer more than twice that number, a total of 376 seats.

Island Air may be a good option for inbound tourists looking to island hop.

The larger turboprop fleet will be “more fuel efficient and carry more passengers than the Dash 8 aircraft that are being replaced,” Island Air CEO Lesley Kaneshiro said in a press release. Planes with turboprop engines use external propellers (as shown in the photo above), which makes it easier to fly to smaller airports, like West Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kapalua. Oftentimes, this may be cheaper than flying to the major airports. The new fleet of ATR planes, however, will be able to fly to these major airports as well.

The announcement of Island Air’s upgrade in planes coincides with its rebranding. This includes an enhanced website, a new paint scheme and a fresher-looking logo. The changes and additions to its brand will happen gradually overtime with an expected completion in the fall. For more than three decades, Island Air has served both residents and tourists flying inter-island. Initially, Island Air was founded in 1980 to provide scheduled service between Princeville and Honolulu. Today, it offers 352 flights every week between Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai and the Big Island.

After flying with Island Air several times, I wanted to make note of the open-seat policy, meaning there are no assigned seats. This could make things difficult for passengers with children because it’s not guaranteed they’ll be sitting alongside an adult family member. The airline’s recent announcement did not mention a change in its seating policy nor did it make note of the plane ride being quieter with the new ATR model. The low hum of the engine while flying on Island Air’s Dash 8 often reminded me of how it’d be to fly in the “olden days,” since today, we’re so used to the smooth, quiet rides on the bigger planes. If you choose Island Air, it’s best to show up early for seats and expect each flight to take between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the destination.

Photo Credit: Island Air Hawaii

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