The U.S. Department of Transportation has agreed to subsidize air service to and from Kalaupapa.
Federal officials said Thursday they will help fund air service for the Hawaiian leprosy settlement and choose an air carrier through a competitive bidding process.
The call for bids will include a subsidy which could reduce current airfares between Honolulu and the former Molokai colony as much as 60 percent.
Sen. Daniel Inouye says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hopes to have an air carrier ready by summer.
Federal funds will also go toward buying a ramp and other equipment to help patients and residents with disabilities.