Jonathan Ornstein

Wednesday - June 13, 2007
By Kerry Miller | Share

Jonathan Ornstein
Jonathan Ornstein

Jonathan Ornstein, CEO of go!, is soaring on the wings of success. After one year in the inter-island travel business, he is proud to say things are going “incredibly well. We carry more than 650,000 passengers.” The CEO was in town on June 9 to attend the go! anniversary party at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

“For the first time in years inter-island travel is up. (We feel) particularly good about the social impact,” says Ornstein, who graced MidWeek’s cover in June 2006.

He credits both go! employees and passengers for making this success possible. “What keeps us going is the passengers who thank us. It gives us a lot of strength,” he says. “In our first year, to have had the impact that we had, a lot of credit goes to our people here. We’re on time 92-and-a-half percent of the time.”

Inter-island travel will continue to be successful for go! in the future, because, Ornstein reveals, the biggest news with the airline today is that its partner, go! Express/Mokulele Airlines, will eventually fly to Molokai and Lanai. Currently, go! does not fly to Molokai or Lanai because the airports are too small to handle their planes. This is where go! Express comes in. The express service has one aircraft, and a second is almost ready to go. Ornstein speaks highly of go! Express frontman, Bill Boyer.

“His partnership with us has allowed him to expand operations, Ornstein says. “He’s done a fabulous job.”

From the beginning, the airline’s intent has been to make air travel more affordable for local people, and Ornstein says happily that this goal has been met. Many passengers have expressed their thanks to the airline because now they can travel more frequently to Neighbor Islands to visit family and friends, something they could not do as much before go! came on the scene.

“We carry a disproportionate share of local passengers. We’re very satisfied,” he says. “We will continue to have innovative promotions designed to the local market. A lot of people saw our $9 fare. More than 2,500 people signed up that week in our frequent flier program.”

While Ornstein and his family - wife Lisa and children Jacob and Jessica - reside mostly in Phoenix and Los Angeles, he travels often between both Mainland cities and to the Hawaiian Islands.

Ornstein also has gained respect for the other inter-island airlines over the past year. “We have a lot of respect for our competition. They’ve been very tenacious, (but) we’re a strong company financially. The operation (Mesa Airlines, the parent company of go!) has been profitable since 1998. The fact that we feel we’re having a positive impact here (means) we’re going to stay and provide for people in Hawaii.”

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