Maui News

PACIFIC WINGS SUSPENDS FLIGHTS INDEFINITELY

July 9, 2009, 1:54 PM HST
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Company planes at Pacific Wings Airlines remained grounded this morning following an alleged incident on Tuesday in which airline officials claim an employee was assaulted by a contractor at the Kahului facility.

According to a statement released by the company, the airline alleges a 24-year-old female employee was assaulted and injured by a Hawaii Department of Transportation contractor while working at the Kahului Airport.

State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka disputes the claims saying there is no corroboration indicating that an assault occurred.

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“We will not tolerate a hostile work environment” said Kimbrell, who urged affected passengers to contact state and federal transportation officials and the media.

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Securitas, the law enforcement arm of the Airports division went to the Pacific Wings offices on Tuesday to serve citations to Pacific Wings for failing to report a past spill incident and for storing an excessive amount of fuel on site.

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Morioka said 50-60 gallons spilled from a damaged storage tank during the previous incident with fuel seeping into neighboring hangars.  Under current regulations, spills in excess of 25 gallons must be reported within 72 hours of the incident.

State officials say 210 gallons of fuel was also being stored at the site-in excess of a 10 gallon restriction.

Company CEO Greg Kahlstorf said the airline cannot conduct flight operations while the safety of its employees or passengers is in question or if it is unable to perform required maintenance operations on its aircraft.

The company suspended operations all of yesterday and remained out of service this morning.

“The safety of employees and customers is our primary concern,” said Pacific Wings President Gabriel Kimbrell.

Morioka called the airline’s actions unfortunate, saying the service stoppage diverts attention from “clear violations.”  Morioka further stated that the interruption in service affects customers in remote areas such as Hana and Kalaupapa that rely on service to their communities.

The airline called for the cancellation of flights until the situation is resolved, but could not predict how long the operations would remain at a standstill.

(By Wendy Osher © 2009)

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