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Larry Ellison buys airline

'Island Air' can ferry Oracle boss to private island

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Oracle boss Larry Ellison's passion for investing in Hawaii has seen him acquire local airline Island Air.

Ellison last year acquired most of Hawaii's sixth-largest island, Lanai. Today he owns 98 per cent of the 141 square mile (365km2) lump of land.

Should the billionaire database guru desire to visit Lanai by air, he can now do so on flights direct from Honolulu or, if he fancies a slower journey, with a stop on Moloka'i.

Just how much Ellison paid to acquire Island Air is not known, but it could be less than the cost of a decent private jet as the company is not a titan of the skies. Last year it announced a plan to upgrade its fleet from from the turboprop DASH 8 to the turboprop ATR-42 and ATR-72, offering 40-52 and up to 78 seats respectively. Reports about the size of the company's fleet suggest it operates seven planes.

Bloomberg says none of the company's 245 staff will lose their gigs and that nothing will change at the airline.

So why has Ellison bought the company? A quick glance at available flights to Lanai suggests Ellison's new asset is one of just two carriers that fly to the island. And if one owns an island, one surely wants its value to be maintained by ensuring it is easily accessible. Throw in the fact that at 1500m Lanai's runway may be too short for Ellison's corporate jets and owning an airline that has easy access to the island looks a sensible strategy. ®

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