Empire to operate Hawaiian turboprops

San Diego
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Hawaiian Airlines has contracted regional carrier Empire Airlines to operate and maintain its new fleet of ATR 42-500s.

The Idaho-based airline has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding to operate the aircraft, according to Hawaiian. The contract is with Hawaiian sister company Airline Contract Maintenance and Equipment.

The name and branding of the new feeder operation will be announced in "early 2013", says Hawaiian.

Hadden Watt will oversee turboprop operations for the Honolulu-based carrier, it says. He was previously senior director of strategy and transformation at Hawaiian.

Hawaiian has bought one ATR 42 for initial operations to Lana'i and Moloka'i. It will buy a second turboprop and intends to begin flights in the middle of 2013.

The carrier plans to fly up to seven ATR 42s in the future.