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Kauai wants state to help make interisland travel cheaper

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LIHUE >> Kauai County is asking the state to incentivize competition and help make interisland travel cost less.

The Garden Island reports council members unanimously approved a resolution last month asking the Legislature to step in.

Councilman Ross Kagawa says he’s spoken with officials on other islands and he thinks they will pass similar resolutions.

"I think it’s an important issue," he said. "We need to speak up already. Right now this is a serious problem."

The resolution points to the benefits of having two airlines operating from 1946 to 2008. Hawaiian Airlines was given a monopoly on interisland travel when Aloha Airlines ceased operations.

"I think it’s a statewide no-brainer that people are upset with airfares on the islands," Kagawa said.

Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of communications for Hawaiian Airlines, says prices are fair and based on a variety of factors.

" … there has been no average fare inflation over the last three years," Botticelli wrote in an email. "We offer several flights every day that run on time with exceptional service, and we are very proud of that. We also very much value our Neighbor Island commuters."

Sen. Mike Gabbard is the vice chair of Hawaii’s Transportation and Energy Committee. He says it’s worth having a conversation about possible action.

Rep. Derek Kawakami said in an email that the market may not support two airlines.

"That is one of the reasons why Aloha Airlines went out of business, and that is why companies like the Superferry wanted to enter the market," Kawakami said in his email. "Another challenge is that we can incentivize industries to promote growth but we can’t incentivize any one particular company."

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