Hawaiian Airlines said today it will continue ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger service between Honolulu and both Molokai and Lanai through at least mid-January.
Earlier this month, Hawaiian said it would suspend both routes on Nov. 1 because pandemic-induced low travel demand triggered a provision in the airline’s pilot contract restricting the carrier from providing ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service.
However, Hawaiian said the U.S. Department of Transportation told the airline that in spite of the contractual restrictions, Molokai and Lanai remain covered under the DOT’s Essential Air Service program and flights must be maintained at a minimum for the 90-day notice period required under that program.
Hawaiian said its goal always has been to avoid a service interruption and that the company will comply with the EAS requirements to continue to serve Molokai and Lanai as it continues exploring long-term solutions to preserve connectivity for both islands.
Mayor Michael Victorino expressed his gratitude for extending service to the two islands at least through mid-January.
“These flights are a lifeline for Molokai and Lanai residents, so I’m very grateful that Hawaiian Airlines will extend these flights at least to mid-January,” Victorino said in a statement. “I also extend my appreciation to Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram, Empire Airlines, the Airline Pilots Association and airline employees and everyone else that is stepping up to maintain this critical service for our community.
“Our people are already struggling with COVID-19 pandemic impacts, so this is welcome news for our people, especially for those who have few other options for transporting cargo or traveling off island. `Ohana by Hawaiian has been the only airline option for people who are in wheelchairs or those needing physical assistance to be able to travel off-island.”
The only other airline that flies to both islands is Mokulele Airlines, which operates nine-seat turboprops. ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operates 48-seat ATR-42 turboprop aircraft.