Oracle’s Ellison Purchases Hawaiian Carrier Island Air

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison has acquired Island Air, gaining a regional carrier in Hawaii where he owns most of the island of Lanai.

The airline, which had been undergoing a restructuring, said today it doesn’t plan any staff changes for its 245 employees. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Ellison, the world’s eighth-richest man with an estimated net worth of $40.7 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has been investing in Hawaii of late. In June, he agreed to buy 98 percent of Lanai, the state’s sixth-largest island.

The 141-square-mile (365-square-kilometer) parcel is known for its history of pineapple-growing by Dole Food Co., and was owned and developed by billionaire David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke Inc. since 1985. Ellison’s software industry rival Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp., married his wife, Melinda, on Lanai in 1994.

Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Redwood City, California-based Oracle, confirmed the Island Air purchase without providing further details.

The sale to Ellison “represents the culmination” of the restructuring process, the Honolulu-based carrier said. Now that Ellison has taken over, Island doesn’t plan any staff changes, and it’s added a new turboprop from European planemaker Avions de Transport Regional, or ATR, to its fleet of Dash 8 planes. The airline will honor current tickets while it develops plans for additional planes, routes and services,

Airline Billionaires

Ellison joins a roster of billionaires who have built or taken stakes in airlines. Richard Branson, the founder of closely held Virgin Group Ltd., sits on the board of Virgin Atlantic Airways and is an investor in Virgin America.

Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya controls the struggling Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. That carrier defaulted on its debt last year, flights were halted, and it lost its operating license soon afterward.

Emilio Azcarraga and Carlos Slim sold their 25 percent stakes in low cost Mexican airline Volaris in 2010. Their investment companies, Grupo Televisa SA and Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB each received $80.6 million from the sale.

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