Hawaiian Holdings revealed on July 17, 2012, that it had signed a Letter of Intent to acquire turboprop ATR 42 aircraft with the aim of establishing a subsidiary carrier to serve routes not currently in Hawaiian's neighbor island system. In December 2012 it was announced that Empire Airlines would operate the aircraft on behalf of Hawaiian. A fourth ATR 42 aircraft was acquired in June 2018.
Hawaiian Airlines began to expand its footprint throughout the 1980s, as the result of intense competition on inter-island routes created by the entrance of Mid Pacific Air into the market. In 1985, the company began its first foray outside the inter-island market through charter services to the South Pacific and then throughout the rest of the Pacific using Douglas DC-8 aircraft. Despite the early successes of this new business, Hawaiian was forced to curtail its charter services when the Federal Government banned all DC-8 and B707 aircraft without hush kits from operating within the US. Hawaiian did, however, manage to gain a short exemption for its South Pacific services.
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