The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has resumed the certification process of Ohana by Hawaiian, a process that could be complete by as early as January 2014.

The regulator notified Ohana’s owner Hawaiian Airlines and operator Empire Airlines that it could begin the final phase of certification, which includes flight tests and proving runs, earlier in December, says Empire president and chief executive Timothy Komberec.

“We are preparing the airplanes to be ferried to Hawaii in the next few days where we will commence our inter-island proving flights,” he says. Flight tests are expected to take up to two weeks.

Under this timeline, FAA certification of Ohana could be complete in January.

Certification of the regional carrier was delayed by the US federal government’s sequester budget cuts that went into effect in March. This hindered the FAA’s ability to send staff to Hawaii to oversee the flight test programme.

Honolulu-based Hawaiian had previously planned for Ohana to begin service in July or August.

“We’re really pleased that the FAA, in tough budget times, has come up with solution to the problem,” says Komberec.

Hawaiian will decide when Ohana will begin service, he says.

Commercial service will begin within a month of Ohana receiving FAA certification, says Hawaiian. The airline does not have a timeline for completing the certification process, it says.

“We will be ready when they are,” says Komberec.

Ohana will initially operate three 48-seat ATR 42-500 aircraft between Honolulu International airport and both Lana’i and Moloka’i. Future service is planned to West Maui, as well as during off-peak times between Hilo, Kahalui (Maui), Kona and Lihue.

Hawaiian first disclosed plans to launch a regional carrier, which was later named Ohana, in July 2012.

Source: Cirium Dashboard