How do you follow the purchase of an island in Hawaii?
If you're Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison, you buy an airline that flies to your tropical paradise.
Ellison has been on a shopping spree lately, buying 98 percent of the island of Lanai in June from Los Angeles billionaire David Murdock and then, in November, buying a beachfront home in Malibu, Calif., from film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Ellison's most risky acquisition may be Island Air, which he bought Wednesday through a holding company.
The exact purchase prices of Ellison's recent deals have not been disclosed, but local observers value the 141-square-mile island at more than $500 million and the three-bedroom, three-bath Malibu pad at more than $3.65 million. The details of the airline deal were not announced.
Island Air, a regional carrier serving airports on all major Hawaiian islands, has 245 employees and three turboprop planes, with 224 weekly flights between the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai.
Lanai, the sixth-largest Hawaiian island, was once a pineapple plantation and is still sparsely inhabited. It includes two resort hotels and two golf courses with clubhouses, according to Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission.
But Ellison did not buy the airline just to get to and from his island, airline officials say.
He hopes to expand the businesses to serve locals visiting relatives on the islands and to fly mainland and foreign tourists throughout the island state, airline officials said. The airline plans to retire two 1980s-era planes and expand to four or five new ATR 72 turboprops by the end of the year.
But Ellison should not get his hopes up about pocketing big profits, said Ray Neidl, an aviation analyst for Nexa Capital Partners in Washington, D.C.