Hawaiian took delivery of its first ATR 72F in late September 2017 and since then has been preparing for the start of scheduled operations. “We have been doing some mock operation drills and have begun hands-on training sessions for our front line teams. So far straightforward, without surprises. “We still have a way to go before we are operationally sound though, so we shall see,” says Brad Matheny, managing director of cargo, who took over from Tim Strauss in spring 2017.
Strauss had presided over unprecedented growth in Hawaiian’s cargo business and set the wheels in motion for the move into the freighter market. The full operation will involve three ATR 72 freighters – all of them operated by Empire Airlines, which also runs Hawaiian’s three-unit ATR 42 passenger fleet.
Scheduled service will start once the second ATR 72 is in place. Matheny expects the plane to be delivered this month (February) and has set his sights on March for the start of the new operation. This will run between the islands in the state, starting with nightly service from Honolulu to Hilo and Kahului. With the arrival of the third freighter a second string serving Hilo and Kona will be added. “Initially, at least, we will run a typical freighter schedule flying overnight,” says Matheny. The venture sees Hawaiian en- croaching into the turf of rival Aloha Air Cargo, but he does not see a battle for market share looming.