Discovery Airways


February 1990

Hawaii has always been a unique location for air service, especially between the island chain as ocean surface travel is lengthy and rather cumbersome. Traditionally intra-island air travel was provided by well-entrenched local airlines, Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Throughout the years, numerous carriers have been started but after a few years cannot sustain operations with competition from the other two established carriers. Discovery Airways (DH) was started to provide another choice of inter-island air travel for locals and tourists. The airline was founded in 1989, by a former Continental Airlines manger and had a majority of start-up capital provide by Phillip Ho, a Japanese real estate developer. The airline partnered with British Aerospace, and decided in purchasing five BAe 146 aircraft, as well as placing options on an additional nine aircraft, including a cargo only version. British Aerospace contributed $2.5 million to the funding of the airline in exchange for the orders of their aircraft.

While the airline was still in planning and development stages, both Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that the airline violated a law, that U.S. airlines must be controlled and financed by U.S. citizens. During the initial investigation, the DOT, granted Discovery Airways a temporary operating certificate for nine-months while the airline could prove its ownership and funding. The first two BAe 146 airplanes, with a seating capacity of eight in first-class and eighty-eight in “club” class, were delivered in December 1989, with the other three being delivered in January 1990. Flights commenced on March 25, 1990, from a Honolulu base to Lihue, Kauai, and Kahului, Maui with no less then twenty-five daily flights. As the DOT investigation continued, the airline had continued to expand adding service to Kona in May and had plans to expand to Hilo a few months later. In July 1990, after the primary investor Phillip Ho, refused to testify about his citizenship or funding sources, an attempt was made to transfer ownership rather quickly, however the DOT found that much of the start-up capital was Japanese based and in violation of U.S. laws.

An order was issued on July 6, 1990, for Discovery Airways to cease operations within a week and the airline suspended all services on July 13, 1990. The airline tried to reestablish funding and ownership over the next few months and was eventually sold to a another company however they were not able to restart the carrier and in August 1991, Discovery Airways after having only flown for three months, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Having acquired five of the British Aerospace BAe 146 aircraft, Discovery Airways started no less then twenty-five daily flights around the Hawaiian Islands from its Honolulu base. Seen being pushed back from the gate at Honolulu International Airport in May 1990, is N882DV, a British Aerospace BAe 146-200 delivered new to Discovery Airways in December 1989.


As the airline was trying to secure new funding during the later part of 1990, the five planes were parked and stored. Parked at Honolulu International Airport in December 1990 is N883DV, a British Aerospace BAe 146, delivered new to Discovery in December 1989.



Discovery Airways route map from February 1990.



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