KAILUA-KONA >> One Hawaii helicopter tour company has seen a substantial rise in bookings after a volcano eruption and following months of limited business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paradise Helicopters has experienced an increase in bookings since the Kilauea volcano began erupting on Sunday, said Bronsten Kossow, the company’s operations manager.
“The call volume is way up and people want to fly now,” Kossow said. “The volcano immediately started the phones ringing. Everyone who is here wants to get up and fly.”
The company booked all of its aircraft and pilots and conducted nine flights on Monday — figures the company has not reported since before the pandemic began.
Kossow said before the pandemic, the company flew about 30 to 40 flights per day.
The Hawaii volcano began erupting for the first time in two years on Sunday. The eruptions continued through Wednesday, but the molten rock poses no threat to residents.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane had told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that a crowd of cars lined up at the national park’s entrance to get a glimpse of the eruption.
“There is a lot of cars waiting on Crater Rim Drive to get out to Kilauea overlook,” she said Monday, adding that onlookers should expect long lines for parking spaces.
The volcano’s two years of relative silence came after more than three decades of constant eruption from 1983 to 2018. Roughly 700 houses were destroyed during an eruption by the Kilauea volcano in 2018.