Category Archives: Empire Airlines (Idaho) (3rd)

Empire Holdings acquires FedEx Feeder West Air

Empire Holdings, Inc., parent company of Empire Airlines, has purchased West Air, Inc., a FedEx Feeder airline headquartered in Fresno, California.

Founded in 1978 and based in Fresno, California, West Air operates Cessna Caravans for FedEx servicing parts of California, Nevada, and Utah. The company has served as a FedEx Feeder operator since 1987.

The acquisition expands the footprint of Empire Holdings, Inc., which is based in Hayden, Idaho, and owns Empire Airlines, Empire Aerospace and Empire Unmanned. Empire Airlines, founded in 1977, operates for FedEx out of 16 bases in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, California, Oklahoma, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Kansas. Empire Airlines has been a FedEx Feeder airline since 1988.

West Air will continue to operate as a standalone company with existing management in place. Komberec will become the new Chief Executive Officer. The terms of the sale are not being disclosed.

West Air was founded in Chico, California, in the 1940s as a Fixed Base Operator, pumping fuel, renting aircraft, performing aircraft maintenance and avionics and providing charter flights and flight instruction. In the late 1970s, the company provided San Francisco-based commuter airline services as West Air Airlines.

West Air began operations for FedEx in 1987 and the company quickly transitioned to an all Cessna 208 fleet, with 33 new aircraft added to the operation.

West Air Route Map:

Empire Airlines Route Map:

Empire Airlines takes delivery of its first ATR 72-600F

Empire Airlines (Idaho) (Coeur d’Alene) has announced on social media it has taken delivery of its first ATR 72-600F (N701FE) which was delivered and ferried from Toulouse to Spokane on May 24-26, 2021.

Empire’s announcement:

Empire Airlines is excited to be first in the nation to take delivery of the new FedEx ATR 72-600F. This is the second ATR 72-600F to roll off the assembly line. Empire Airlines was chosen as the US launch operator for this aircraft.

Route Map:


Hawaiian Airlines ends ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service, ATRs to leave Hawaii

Cargo operations launched on August 13, 2018 with N810HC

Hawaiian Airlines announced on May 27 that it will not restart its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger service between Honolulu and Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i as well as its statewide ATR freighter cargo service.

Freighter service with ATR 72 aircraft was suspended in November 2020 and passenger service with ATR 42 aircraft was halted January 14, 2021.

Above Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt.

Service between Honolulu and Kapalua was suspended in March 2020. The severe decline in Neighbor Island travel demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and state and county quarantine measures triggered a labor provision that led to the temporary suspension of passenger and cargo flights. Hawaiian decided to permanently end service following an in-depth assessment of the overall operation and its long-term viability.

Hawaiian would have incurred significant costs and faced numerous obstacles in restarting service with its current fleet of aircraft. The soonest flights could have resumed was at the end of this year.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian was operated by Idaho-based Empire Airlines as a third-party feeder carrier. When service was at its peak, Empire employed 82 pilots, flight attendants and maintenance personnel in the state of Hawai‘i as well as 15 at its home base in Idaho. All 97 employees were dedicated to the ‘Ohana operation.

Contractor Worldwide Flight Services employed a staff of 28 to provide ground handling services. All other ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operations were managed by Hawaiian employees, who will be reassigned to other areas of the company.

Hawaiian has begun moving its ATR fleet to the U.S. mainland for storage and eventual sale. The company lent some of its ground support equipment to Mokulele Airlines, which is providing service between Honolulu and Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i.

Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights in the spring of 2014, followed by all-cargo service in the summer of 2018.


Top Copyright Photo: Ohana by Hawaiian-Empire Airlines ATR 72-212 (F) N810HC (msn 423) HNL (Ivan K. Nishimura). Image: 943082.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian aircraft slide show:

Hawaiian Airlines to suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service

Hawaiian Airlines has announced it will temporarily suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger and cargo services effective November 1, 2020 as it continues to confront economic challenges of low travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions.

Hawaiian, which reduced its workforce by nearly 2,500 employees this month when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Payroll Support Program (PSP) expired, will suspend its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger flights between Honolulu (HNL) and Moloka‘i (MKK) and Lāna‘i (LNY), as well as cargo-only service within the Hawaiian Islands. Service between HNL and Kapalua (JHM) in West Maui was suspended in March.

Hawaiian sought to preserve important air service to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. However, low travel demand caused by the pandemic and the state of Hawai‘i’s quarantine restrictions triggered a labor provision in Hawaiian’s pilot contract affecting the carrier’s ability to provide ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service. The provision, which is common in the U.S. airline industry, prevents Hawaiian from offering ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights – which are operated with turboprop aircraft by Empire Airlines as a third-party feeder carrier – when interisland Boeing 717 and Airbus A321neo jet flights operated by Hawaiian’s pilots are severely reduced.

Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights with ATR 42 turboprop aircraft in the spring of 2014, followed by all-cargo service with ATR 72 aircraft in the summer of 2018.

While Hawaiian would be able to resume ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service with a significant recovery in interisland travel, that is unlikely to occur anytime soon. Separately, the Air Line Pilots Association has agreed to provide relief from the contractual provision if additional PSP funding is approved by the federal government and allows Hawaiian to bring furloughed employees back to its payroll.

Hawaiian is contacting guests affected by the service suspension to provide refunds. Cargo customers will be offered refunds or, depending on the shipment, the option to have their products transported between the islands with Hawaiian’s Boeing 717 and A321neo aircraft.

Route Map:

Ohana by Hawaiian aircraft photo gallery:

Hawaiian Airlines launches all-cargo island service

Hawaiian Airlines on August 13, 2018 celebrated the launch of all-cargo service between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Līhu‘e Airport (LIH) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) by transporting construction and household supplies to support disaster relief projects in Hanalei on Kaua‘i and Puna on the Island of Hawai‘i.

Hawaiian’s new ATR 72 aircraft was loaded with 1,020 pounds of construction tools bound for Līhu‘e to be used by Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity in repairing homes for low-income residents affected by last April’s devastating storms. A second flight to Hilo carried 1,815 pounds of furniture for 20 micro-houses built by HOPE Services Hawai‘i to shelter families affected by the ongoing Kīlauea volcano lava flow. The items were packed by employees at City Mill, which augmented Hawaiian’s list with its own donations. Also aboard the flight from Honolulu to Hilo were 23 boxes of school supplies collected by Hawaiian employees and being delivered to Pāhoa Elementary.

The pictured N810HC below made the first revenue flight.

Cargo operations launched on August 13, 2018 with N810HC

Above Copyright Photo (all others by Hawaiian): Ohana by Hawaiian-Empire Airlines ATR 72-212 (F) N810HC (msn 423) HNL (Ivan K. Nishimura). Image: 943082.

The Līhu‘e shipment expands Hawaiian’s partnership with Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity, established with an initial $25,000 cash donation after torrential storms displaced residents on Kaua‘i earlier this spring. The new partnership with HOPE Services Hawai‘i builds on Hawaiian’s earlier contribution of $50,000 to support the Salvation Army’s emergency shelters set up in Puna in the wake of Kīlauea’s recent eruption.

New Cargo Operation

Hawaiian’s new cargo fleet, consisting of two ATR 72 aircraft (N810HC and N811HC) in an all-cargo configuration, offers customers efficient shipment of goods throughout the state with well-timed connections from the airline’s mainland and international networks. The ‘Ohana by Hawaiian freighter operation will also include flights between HNL and Kahului Airport (OGG) and Kona International Airport (KOA) with the arrival of two more aircraft expected to be in service next year.

Hawaiian’s ATR 72s can also accommodate up to seven LD-3 containers, the same type carried by aircraft flying Hawaiian’s transpacific routes, allowing the airline to transfer cargo more seamlessly between the islands and destinations in Asia, the South Pacific and the U.S. mainland.

The cargo fleet is operated by Empire Airlines, which also operates ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s four 48-passenger ATR 42 fleet serving the communities of Kapalua (Maui), Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. 

The new ATR 72 service complements bulk freight and containerized shipping Hawaiian provides on over 70 scheduled transpacific daily flights with Airbus A330 and A321neo, and Boeing 767 aircraft. The airline’s Boeing 717 fleet, which flies approximately 170 daily flights between the Neighbor Islands, will continue to provide express shipments throughout the state.

Hawaiian Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to obtain a cargo certificate on March 20, 1942, when it converted amphibious Sikorsky S-38s into cargo aircraft to transport beef from Moloka‘i to Honolulu, while using S-43s as freighters servicing other islands. Hawaiian has provided transpacific shipping for over 75 years.

Photos: Hawaiian Airlines.

Ohana aircraft slide show:“>

Hawaiian to purchase the assets of Island Air for ‘Ohana by Hawaiian

Airline Color Scheme - Introduced 2013

Hawaiian Holdings, Inc., the parent of Hawaiian Airlines, has agreed to purchase the AOC and other assets of bankrupt Island Air for $750,000.

According to Honoluu Star Advertiser, the decision to acquire the AOC will allow ‘Ohana for Hawaiian to become a stand alone airline subsidiary. Curently, the three ‘Ohana ATR 42-500s are operated under contract by Empire Airlines.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights are operated by Empire Airlines and fly between:

  • Honolulu (HNL) and Molokai (MKK)
  • Honolulu (HNL) and Lanai (LNY)
  • Kahului (OGG) and Kona (KOA)
  • Kahului (OGG) and Molokai (MKK)
  • Kahului (OGG) and Hilo (ITO)
  • Lanai (LNY) and Molokai (MKK)

The ‘Ohana turboprop aircraft features a livery designed by Hilo-based artist Sig Zane and his son Kūha’o.

The aircraft are named after a significant wind on each of the islands that `Ohana by Hawaiian serves: Holo Kaomi of Paomaʻi, Lāna’i; Kaiāulu of Wai’anae, O’ahu; and Hikipua of Hālawa, Moloka’i.

Copyright Photo: Ohana by Hawaiian-Empire Airlines ATR 42-500 N804HC (msn 623) HNL (Ivan K. Nishimura). Image: 922268.

Route Map:



Hawaiian to acquire three ATR 72 freighters to operate under the ‘Ohana by Hawaiian brand

Hawaiian Holdings, Inc., parent of Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu), today announced plans to acquire three ATR 72 turboprop aircraft in an all-cargo configuration to expand its interisland shipping services.  The new operation will launch in the first half of 2016, starting with flights between Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and Kona International Airport (KOA), Kahului Airport (OGG), Līhuʻe Airport (LIH) and Hilo International Airport (ITO), with well-timed connections from Hawaiian Airlines’ mainland and international network.

Hawaiian logo-1

The ATR 72 fleet can carry up to 18,000 pounds of cargo and will be able to handle five 88-by-108-feet aircraft pallets or up to seven LD3 containers, skidded cargo and oversized shipments. Express services for smaller shipments will also be available on its 160 daily B717 flights throughout the day.

Ohana by Hawaiian logo

The flights will be branded ‘Ohana by Hawaiian and operated by Empire Airlines, which also operates the 48-passenger ATR 42 turboprop service (above). The livery of the aircraft will feature the same kapa tail patterns created by Hilo-based artist Sig Zane and his son Kūha’o (below).

Ohana by Hawaiian Design 4


“Since launching the ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger operation in March 2014, we have established a track record of providing a reliable and efficient service for travel within the islands with an on-time arrival rate of 94 percent,” said Hadden Watt, managing director of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian. “We expect to deliver the same reliability and high-quality of service to our cargo customers for their interisland shipments.”

The new cargo operation will create more than 100 new Hawai’i-based jobs in various areas of air transportation including pilots, mechanics, ground handlers, sales, customer service and management positions.

Hawaiian Airlines was the first U.S. airline certified to ship cargo in 1942, and has provided high-quality overseas shipping and customer service to international customers, freight forwarders, carriers and many others in the industry for more than 70 years as the flagship carrier of the Pacific.

Top Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/ Operated by Empire Airlines, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian-branded ATR 42-500 N804HC (msn 623) taxies at the Honolulu base.

Hawaiian aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show


‘Ohana by Hawaiian launches its second route to Lana’i

‘Ohana by Hawaiian (Honolulu) yesterday (March 18) launched its inaugural flight to Lana’i, the second of two islands it has returned to the Hawaiian Airlines network. The Lana’i service will operate twice daily using a 48-seat ATR 42 aircraft operated by Empire Airlines (Idaho). Last week, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian also launched thrice-daily service between Honolulu and Moloka’i.

The departure of Flight HA 612 to Lana’i Airport was preceded by remarks from Hawaiian Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Peter Ingram, followed by a traditional Hawaiian blessing at the gate.

The daily flights are scheduled below:


Flight Route Departs Arrives   Start Date
HA612 HNL-LNY 9:30 a.m. 10:00 a.m. March 18, 2014
HA616 HNL-LNY 2:40 p.m. 3:10 p.m. March 18, 2014


Flight Route Departs Arrives Start Date
HA613 LNY-HNL 10:40 a.m. 11:10 a.m. March 18, 2014
HA617 LNY-HNL 3:50 p.m. 4:20 p.m. March 18, 2014

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group. ATR 42-500 N804HC (msn 623) operated by Empire Airlines taxies at Honolulu.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian: AG Slide Show


‘Ohana by Hawaiian starts operations

Ohana by Hawaiian-Empire ATR 42-500 N804HC (13)(Grd-1) HNL (IN)(LRW) 3.11.14

‘Ohana by Hawaiian (Honolulu), Hawai’i’s newest interisland operation, yesterday (March 11) launched its inaugural turboprop service to Moloka’i, the first of two islands it will return to the Hawaiian Airlines network. Twice daily service between Honolulu and Lana’i will be launched on March 18.

The arrival of flight HA 614 into Moloka’i Airport was followed by a cultural exchange featuring an oli kahea (chant of admission) presented by Hawaiian Airlines and ‘Ohana by Hawaiian staff asking for permission to enter the community, and an oli aloha (chant of welcome) from the Hawaiian language immersion students of Punana Leo o Moloka’i and ‘O Hina i ka Malama, and the seniors of Alu Like, Inc.’s Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna. Remarks were given by renowned Hilo-based artist Sig Zane, who designed the livery of the aircraft; Tim Komberec, president and chief executive officer of Empire Airlines; Moloka’i Senator Kalani English, chair of the Committee on Transportation and International Affairs; Stacy Crivello, Maui County council member; Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines president and chief executive officer; and Hadden Watt, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian managing director.

The festivities also included a lu’au with nearly 500 Moloka’i residents in attendance, live Hawaiian entertainment, tours of the aircraft and a blessing prior to the departure of flight HA 615 to Honolulu.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian will offer three daily flights between Honolulu and Moloka’i using a 48-seat ATR 42 aircraft. The daily flights, operated by Empire Airlines, are scheduled below:


Flight Route Departs Arrives   Start Date
HA610 HNL-MKK 7:00 a.m. 7:25 a.m. March 12, 2014
HA614 HNL-MKK 12:15 p.m. 12:40 p.m. March 12, 2014
HA618 HNL-MKK 5:30 p.m. 5:55 p.m. March 11, 2014


Flight Route Departs Arrives Start Date
HA611 MKK-HNL 8:05 a.m. 8:30 a.m. March 12, 2014
HA615 MKK-HNL 1:20 p.m. 1:45 p.m. March 11, 2014
HA619 MKK-HNL 6:35 p.m. 7:00 p.m. March 11, 2014


Flight Route Departs Arrives   Start Date
HA612 HNL-LNY 9:30 a.m. 10:00 a.m. March 18, 2014
HA616 HNL-LNY 2:40 p.m. 3:10 p.m. March 18, 2014


Flight Route Departs Arrives Start Date
HA613 LNY-HNL 10:40 a.m. 11:10 a.m. March 18, 2014
HA617 LNY-HNL 3:50 p.m. 4:20 p.m. March 18, 2014

The livery of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s aircraft was created by Sig Zane and his son Kuha’o, who both used Hawaiian Airlines’ interisland route map as inspiration for the design, weaving three kapa patterns: piko (navel), representing ancestry and progeny; manu (bird), representing both a bird in flight and the prow of a canoe, the traditional form of migration; and kalo (taro), representing family. The ATR 42 aircraft are named after a significant wind on each of the islands that ‘Ohana by Hawaiian will serve: Holo Kaomi of Paoma’i, Lana’i; Kaiaulu of Wai’anae, O’ahu; and Hikipua of Halawa, Moloka’i.

The ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operation creates more than 100 new Hawai’i-based jobs in various areas of air transportation including pilots, flight attendants and mechanics as well as ground-handling and customer service positions. Hawaiian Airlines handles reservations and sales for the new operation, allowing the interisland flights to integrate seamlessly into Hawaiian Airlines’ well-established route network. The new service operates out of gates 49 and 50 at Honolulu International Airport.

Hawaiian Airlines last flew to Moloka’i and Lana’i in 2004, operating on a Boeing 717-200 aircraft.

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group/ ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s N804HC (msn 623) operated by Empire Airlines (Idaho) is pictured starting to taxi out as flight HA 614 to MKK on its first flight.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian: AG Slide Show

Ohana by Hawaiian could be flying next month

Ohana by Hawaiian ATR 42 Design

Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu) in February 2013 introduced a separate new ‘Ohana by Hawaiian name and brand for its new ATR 42 regional division. Hawaiian Airlines acquired two ATR 42-500s to be operated by Empire Airlines of Idaho. The first, ATR 42-500 N804HC (msn 623) arrived in Honolulu on January 14, 2014. The aircraft have been sitting idle because the AOC certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was held up due to the Washington budget mess called “sequestration”. Now the FAA is working with Empire Airlines and Hawaiian to obtain the Part 121 AOC in order for Empire to operate the aircraft in the islands. According to the Molokai News, the new airline hopes to become airborne next month.

Read the full article: CLICK HERE

Video of the painting of the first Ohana ATR 42:

At the time of the first announcement, Hawaiian issued this statement about the choice of the interesting brand:

A kapa pattern symbolizing ancestry, family and transportation will mark the turboprop aircraft flown by Hawai‘i’s newest interisland operation when ‘Ohana by Hawaiian inaugurates service to Moloka‘i and Läna‘i this summer.

The name and brand identity of the new service, as well as the aircraft design by renowned artist and designer Sig Zane and his son Kuha‘o, were unveiled on February 11, 2013 at Honolulu International Airport.

“The name ‘Ohana perfectly captures the idea behind this service and the role it will play in our community. This new service has always been about making it easier for friends and families throughout the islands and from overseas to share time together,” said Mark Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiary Hawaiian Airlines. “Sig and Kuha‘o Zane’s design weaves the concept of family with symbols for heritage and transportation, acknowledging our proud history as the first company to connect our islands through flight.”

The Hilo-based designers used Hawaiian Airlines’ interisland route map as a basis for the design, and incorporated three kapa patterns: piko, representing ancestor and progeny; manu, representing both a bird in flight and the prow of a canoe, the traditional form of migration; and kalo, representing family.

“Today we invite our ancestors and kupuna to join us as we holoholo between the islands. We celebrate their art and recognize all who have traveled before us,” Zane said. “This symbol of our heritage is now a cherished piece for everyone to see.”

‘Ohana by Hawaiian will launch daily service to Moloka‘i and Lana’i this summer using 48-seat ATR 42 turboprop aircraft operated by Empire Airlines of Idaho.

Ohana by Hawaiian Designers (IN)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Ivan K. Nishimura/Blue Wave Group. (Left to Right) Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley, livery co-designers Kuha‘o Zane and Sig Zane.


Ohana by Hawaiian Design

Ohana by Hawaiian Design 2

Ohana by Hawaiian Design 3

Ohana by Hawaiian Design 4

Top Image: Hawaiian Airlines: Our fleet of modern, ATR 42 turboprop aircraft evokes some of the magic and nostalgia of a bygone era, soaring along scenic shorelines. Service aboard ‘Ohana’s 48-passenger twin-turboprop aircraft will feature the friendly, world-class service Hawaiian Airlines is famous for, delivered in a lighter, more casual local style.

Hawaiian Airlines: AG Slide Show

Current route map of Empire Airlines of Idaho: Empire mainly flies packages for FedEx as a FedEx Feeder.

Empire Airlines (Idaho) 1.2014 Route Map