HONOLULU - Island Air says it will close operations as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday due to legal pressures imposed by its aircraft lessors.

Island Air has 423 employees with 252 one-way flights per week.  Per day, it had 36 one-way flight between Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului and Kona.

Last month, Island Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to fend off action by aircraft lessors.  The filling allowed Island Air to continue inter island service.

Island Air says on Oct. 12, its lessors served the company with notices of termination of the leases and demanded it surrender its planes.

“Island Air has taken every measure possible to avoid this tremendous hardship to its passengers,” said David Uchiyama, Island Air president and CEO. “Island Air appreciates the loyalty and support its customers, management, employees, and vendors have shown the airline, especially during the last few weeks of this bankruptcy process. Island Air is proud of its 37-year history of service to the State of Hawaii.”

As customers are at the terminal checking in for their flights, some are already aware about the airline losing but others are hearing about it for the first time. 

One couple checked in for their flight told Island News they're leaving for Kauai Thursday on Island Air and had a flight set to return with the airline Sunday. 

Island Air employees helped them re-book their flights with Hawaiian Airlines for the same times. 

"One of the things that's been really quite amazing to us is how gracious the people attending the stations are. I mean tomorrow, they won't have jobs and yet they've been remarkable in their grace and the dignity with which they're closing this up. So we've been truly appreciative," Rich McKeown, an Island Air customer said.  

Island Air has been around for 37 years.

Gov. David Ige released the following statement:

"I want to thank Island Air for its decades of service to our communities. For 37 years the company and its employees have played a big role in connecting island families and supporting our business community. The closure will have a tremendous effect on 400 employees and their families, and the state will be working with Island Air to help the employees apply for unemployment insurance and provide assistance with job searches and training opportunities."

"Hawaii has enjoyed the Island Air service which has delivered residents and visitors across the state for the past 37 years. We were notified today that the airline will make its last scheduled flight tomorrow night. HDOT will work with Island Air on the logistics of ceasing its operations at Hawaii's airports," said Ross Higashi, Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director, Airports Division.

Hawaiian Air says it is working quickly to provide flight relief for those who have Island Air tickets from Nov. 11 through 17.  Those with a confirmed reservation via Honolulu (HNL), Kahului (OGG), Kona (KOA and Lihue (LIH) can standby for coach seating on Hawaiian's regularly scheduled flights on the ticketed day of departure.