Forgive us if we’re slightly over the story breaking around the country that island of Lanai owner/Oracle founder Larry Ellison is purchasing the small 30-year 0ld commuter airline Island Air. That story, which makes perfect sense given the fact that Ellison owns one of the islands that Island Air services, is actually a month old, as anyone who reads the papers around here knows. The real story is why the company felt the need to vehemently deny that Ellison was the buyer a month ago.
Here’s the timeline: On Jan. 10, Island Air announced that they will be sold to an “undisclosed buyer” for an “undisclosed price.” Then on Jan. 18, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Island Air’s buyer is Ellison. The paper based their story on information provided by “two sources familiar with the situation.” But a few days later, an Island Air spokesman went on the record to deny that Ellison was the buyer, which PBN reported on Jan. 25:
An Island Air spokesperson told PBN it was pretty safe to cross off from any list of potential buyers a connection to Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison or any of his corporations. But many observers of Hawaii’s airline industry continue to believe that Ellison is connected to the sale. He bought the island of Lanai last year, and Island Air operates about five scheduled daily flights between Honolulu and Lanai, and two from Molokai to Lanai.
Sounds pretty definite. The spokesman could have simply said no comment, but he went out of his way to deny that Ellison or anyone connected with Ellison was the buyer. Still, PBN didn’t let go, and Island Air’s spokesman didn’t back off: “When asked if the buyer was Ellison, Island Air spokesman Michael Rodyniuk said, ‘I wish it could be something like that, but no.’”
Yeah. And by “yeah,” I mean, “no.” Or actually, “yeah.”
And now, with no sense of irony, the company is welcoming Larry Ellison, their new overlord. I hope the airline’s service is better than their public relations.
Photo courtesy Island Air