Hawaiian Airlines temporarily suspending its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights
Hawaiian Airlines will temporarily suspend its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger flights and cargo services between Honolulu (HNL) and Moloka‘i (MKK) and Lāna‘i (LNY), beginning Nov. 1. The move leaves travelers with mobility limitations with one less way to travel between the Hawaiian islands.
Service between Honolulu and Kapalua (JHM) in West Maui has been suspended since March.
The airline announcement referenced multiple economic challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, including furloughing 2,500 employees in the wake of the recently expired Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Payroll Support Program. Hawaiian Airlines also placed the blame for low travel demand on the state’s quarantine restrictions, which impacted the carrier’s ability to fully staff pilots for ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service — a provision stated in the pilots’ union contract.
‘Ohana by Hawaiian, launched in 2014, provides the only wheelchair-accessible commercial air transportation between the Hawaiian islands, as well as cargo-only services.
Hawaii State Representative Lynn Decoite called the suspension “a health issue” for both Molokai and Lanai. “We cannot leave this on the side burner,” Decoite said. “This has to be addressed so that we could give them accessibility.”
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram said that the airline hopes to restore ‘Ohana service as soon as inter-island travel demand recovers significantly. “While we are disappointed at being unable to avoid the service suspension, this is a difficult situation for both Hawaiian… as we navigate an incredibly challenging period, and we all remain committed to returning flights to communities that rely on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.” However, the airline acknowledged that pre-pandemic travel demands are “unlikely to occur anytime soon.”
The union which represents Hawaiian Airlines pilots has agreed to lift the contractual provision if additional PSP funding is approved by the federal government and Hawaiian utilizes the stimulus stipend to bring furloughed employees back to its payroll.
The airline said it has reached out to guests impacted by the suspension to offer refunds where needed.
Featured photo by ejs9/Getty Images.
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