Hawaiian Airlines to Suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian Service
Hawaiian Airlines today announced it will temporarily suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger and cargo services effective Nov. 1 as it continues to confront economic challenges of low travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions.
Hawaiian, which reduced its workforce by nearly 2,500 employees this month when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Payroll Support Program expired, will suspend its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger flights between Honolulu and Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, as well as cargo-only service within the Hawaiian Islands. Service between HNL and Kapalua in West Maui was suspended in March.
Hawaiian sought to preserve important air service to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. However, airline executives say low travel demand caused by the pandemic and the state of Hawai‘i’s quarantine restrictions triggered a labor provision in Hawaiian’s pilot contract affecting the carrier’s ability to provide ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service.
“It is an honor to provide essential transportation for the people of Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and West Maui, and more recently all-cargo service within our state,” said Peter Ingram, president and CEO at Hawaiian Airlines. “While we are disappointed at being unable to avoid the service suspension, this is a difficult situation for both Hawaiian and Empire Airlines as we navigate an incredibly challenging period, and we all remain committed to returning flights to communities that rely on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.”
Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights with ATR-42 turboprop aircraft in the spring of 2014, followed by all-cargo service with ATR-72 aircraft in the summer of 2018.
While Hawaiian would be able to resume ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service with a significant recovery in interisland travel, that is unlikely to occur anytime soon, according to the airline. Separately, the Air Line Pilots Association has agreed to provide relief from the contractual provision if additional PSP funding is approved by the federal government and allows Hawaiian to bring furloughed employees back to its payroll.
Hawaiian is contacting guests affected by the service suspension to provide refunds. Cargo customers will be offered refunds or, depending on the shipment, the option to have their products transported between the islands with Hawaiian’s Boeing 717 and A321neo aircraft.
Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D- Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and East Maui) is reacting to news announced today that Empire Airlines, the operator of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, and contactor with Hawaiian Airlines is going to suspend their Hawaii operations starting Nov. 1, 2020.
‘Ohana by Hawaiian, operated by Empire Airlines, provides passenger service and cargo operations inter-island to Oahu, Lāna‘i, Molokai and Kapalua in West Maui, operating a fleet of ATR 42s and ATR 72s
“Ohana by Hawaiian has been a lifeline for the residents of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i since they began their operations 6 years ago. They are the only option for our residents that are in wheelchairs or those needing physical assistance to be able to travel off island, for most the travel is to O‘ahu for medical appointments. While I am grateful that they provided this service to our communities, this is another unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have already reached out to the Hawaiian Airlines leadership to see how we can ensure continuity of service for our residents. Due to COVID-19 and the inter-island quarantine restrictions many of our community members on Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i have put off medical appointments. Many have not been off island since March. Our Kupuna have been checking the news each day to find out when Inter-island travel will resume so they can book appointments for medical, dental and vision care. Ensuring that when travel is allowed that there is a viable option for them is paramount,” said Rep. Lynn DeCoite.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino release the following statement on Hawaiian Airlines’ suspension of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger and cargo services.
“While we understand Hawaiian Airlines faces economic challenges with decreased travel statewide, we have serious concerns over how this will affect our islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. These communities have limited access to resources and rely on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian for everything from medical appointments to essential goods. We will be working to ensure there is necessary support and assistance for our Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i residents,” said Mayor Victorino.