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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Aloha Airlines upgrades fleet, schedule

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Aloha Airlines, which emerged from bankruptcy protection about a month ago, is replacing nearly a third of its aging interisland fleet.

The state's second largest airline said yesterday that it will get six new Boeing 737-200 jets for its passenger and cargo service to the Neighbor Islands.

The first of the new planes will arrive next month and all six will be in service this summer. The new jets will replace 20-year-old planes, whose leases are expiring.

Aloha spokesman Stu Glauberman said the airline is purchasing one of the six planes and will lease the remaining five.

Aloha currently has 21 aircraft in its fleet, including 13 Boeing 737-200s for its interisland flights and eight Boeing 737-700s for its Mainland service.

Aloha, which was founded in 1946, filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2004 after fuel and other costs soared. The airline emerged from bankruptcy reorganization last month under new ownership led by California billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies.

In addition to the new aircraft, the new investment is allowing Aloha to expand its Mainland service, with six new weekly flights between Sacramento and Orange County's John Wayne Airport. The new service begins on May 1.

The new jets come as rival Hawaiian Airlines said last month that it will spend $31.8 million to acquire four Boeing 767-300 aircraft, expanding its long-haul fleet from 14 to 18 jets.

The local carriers' expansion plans coincides with the entry of new low-priced competition from Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group Inc. Mesa announced in September that it was investing $50 million to launch the new interisland carrier in the second quarter. Mesa said the new airline will start with one-way fares as low as $43.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: Aloha Airlines was established in 1946. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date.