As the state’s visitor industry moves quickly toward protective hibernation, Hawaiian Airlines announced Sunday that it will suspend most of its long-haul passenger service and reduce its schedule of flights to the neighbor islands.
The airline said it would maintain its regular flight schedule through Wednesday to allow visitors adequate time to return home and to accommodate the return of aircraft to their designated bases.
The decision comes on the heels of an unprecedented quarantine order issued Saturday by Gov. David Ige. Beginning Thursday, all visitors and returning residents will be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the state.
“We support the state of Hawaii’s efforts to quickly contain this illness,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram in a statement released Sunday. “We have begun notifying our guests and helping them return home — both to Hawaii and from Hawaii. We sincerely appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding during this difficult period for Hawaiian and the state of Hawaii.”
The airline is suspending its Ohana by Hawaiian service between Honolulu and Kapalua, effective Wednesday, as part of a larger interisland schedule reduction.
The airline will continue to provide one daily nonstop flight between Honolulu and Los Angeles and its Thursday flight between Honolulu and American Samoa, which it said will provide “a baseline of out-of-state access.” It is evaluating its trans-Pacific cargo routes and might provide passenger access on additional flights for those willing to undergo the mandated self-quarantine.
According to the airlines, interisland cargo service will continue uninterrupted using Boeing 717 jets and a fleet of Ohana by Hawaiian turboprops.
The recent flurry of alerts and announcements has resulted in a deluge of queries from Hawaiian Air customers, prompting the airline to ask that only those with immediate travel needs call for assistance.
The new coronavirus has forced the local visitor industry to make difficult decisions in the name of public health and economic survival. Within the last week several hotels have announced they are shutting down.
On Friday the 818-room Hale Koa Hotel, part of the Armed Forces Recreation Centers Resorts, announced that it was closing until April 15.
Ko Olina Resorts followed suit a day later, announcing that it was closing its hotels and other attractions effective Wednesday to March 31. The shutdown includes Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, and the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
On Maui the Spa Montage Kapalua Bay announced it was temporarily closing in keeping with recommendations from local officials. In a statement posted to its website, the hotel said residential and fractional owners and current in-house guests would be provided security and limited housekeeping services.
In addition, Aqua-Aston Hospitality posted a message on its website informing visitors to its Hawaii properties of the quarantine order and asking that anyone with existing reservations through April 17 reschedule their visit.
Many hotels are waiving their fees for cancellations or changes to reservations.
Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Chris Tatum said he expected many hotels to suspend operations as the community effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues.
In a letter directed to Hawaii tourism leaders, Tatum lent his support to Ige’s quarantine edict, saying that it would reduce the strain on the state’s health care system, and pledged that HTA would work with its industry partners to spread the word about the new restrictions.
“Hawaii is a very special destination that has always welcomed visitors with aloha, however at this time, we need to focus on the health of our community and contribute to the worldwide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.”