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Hawaiian Airlines aircraft in Honolulu (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

Hawaiian Suspends Inter-Island Passenger and Cargo Flights to Molokai, Lanai

Hawaiian Airlines is indefinitely suspending inter-island services from Honolulu to Moloka‘i, Hawaii and Lāna‘i, Hawaii. The services are operated by its fully-integrated subsidiary carrier, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian. The suspension, which starts Nov. 1, includes not only passenger services but also cargo-only services within the Hawaiian Islands.

Due to low demand across its inter-island network, Hawaiian Airlines made the decision to suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service between Honolulu and Kapalua, Hawaii — located in West Maui — earlier in March. It made the decision yesterday to suspend service to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, thus entirely suspending ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.

Just last week, the carrier reduced its workforce by nearly 2,500 employees to offset COVID-19’s impacts on the airline. Hawaiian Airlines received a CARES Act lifeline worth up to $420 million from the U.S. Treasury earlier in late September. However, it wasn’t enough for the carrier to avoid cuts to its workforce on Oct. 1.

Hawaiian sought to preserve an air link to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. But low travel demand caused by COVID-19 and Hawaii’s travel restrictions triggered a labor provision in Hawaiian’s pilot contract affecting the carrier’s ability to provide ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service. The provision, which is common in the U.S. airline industry, prevents Hawaiian from offering ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights when inter-island Boeing 717 and Airbus A321neo jet flights operated by Hawaiian’s pilots are severely reduced.

Hawaiian said it is now contacting customers affected by the service suspension. Cargo customers will be offered refunds or given the option to have their cargo transported between the islands with Hawaiian’s 717 and A321neo aircraft.

Mokulele Airlines said that in the wake of Hawaiian Airlines’ service suspensions it has dedicated additional aircraft and crews to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i beginning Nov. 1 and that fares would remain the same.

Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights in spring 2014 with ATR 42 turboprop aircraft. All-cargo service on the airline was launched in summer 2018 with ATR 72 aircraft. ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights are operated with turboprop aircraft by Empire Airlines as a third-party feeder carrier.

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO, Peter Ingram released a statement in regards to the indefinite suspension of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.

“It is an honor to provide essential transportation for the people of Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and West Maui,” he said, “and more recently all-cargo service within our state. While we are disappointed at being unable to avoid the service suspension, this is a difficult situation for both Hawaiian and Empire Airlines as we navigate an incredibly challenging period, and we all remain committed to returning flights to communities that rely on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.”

Albert Kuan
Albert Kuan
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