CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sunday's earthquakes led to delayed and canceled flights for all airlines. Mayu Suto, headed for home in Tokyo, pushed luggage for her parents yesterday.
Shifts in planes and rules get airlines back on track
Many carriers waive certain fees for stranded passengers
Airlines serving the state focused on returning operations to normal yesterday, redeploying aircraft and loosening restrictions for passengers who needed to change their schedules.
United Airlines, which has 11 daily flights to Hawaii, brought in two extra aircraft from San Francisco to accommodate stranded passengers. Mike Navares, general manager of Hawaii for United, said the airline brought a 348-seat Boeing 777 into Honolulu on Sunday that departed yesterday morning, and flew a 347-passenger Boeing 747 into Kona yesterday that departed later in the day.
United has waived restrictions on change fees, advance purchases, blackouts and stay requirements for passengers ticketed on or before Sunday for travel between that day and tomorrow. One change is being allowed to passengers' travel plans, while customers whose flights were canceled are eligible for a full refund.
At Hawaiian Airlines the biggest challenge was accommodating all of the phone calls from people who could not travel the day before, Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said.
"So (yesterday) reservations (was) operating at full strength and on overtime to accommodate everyone as quickly as possible," he said.
Wagner said Hawaiian is waiving the change or refund fee for passengers whose tickets were issued on or before Sunday. Customers scheduled to fly trans-Pacific on Hawaiian from Sunday through next Sunday can make date and some flight changes without any fees as long as the new date of travel is no later than Oct. 29 and their same type of seat is available. Interisland customers may also change origin or destination points.
Aloha Airlines spokesman Stu Glauberman said the carrier's interisland and mainland flights were operating as scheduled yesterday.
"We took a lot of passengers (yesterday) from United and Northwest who were inconvenienced from their carriers," Glauberman said. "Essentially, Aloha helped them get back to the mainland."
Aloha also waived its change fee for passengers from Sunday through today for passengers who wanted to change their flights because of Sunday's events.
Mesa Air Group Inc.'s go!, the new interisland carrier, also was back to normal yesterday after canceling 12 of 64 flights on Sunday.
"It was certainly no worse than a bad snowstorm in Dulles," said Mesa Chairman and Chief Executive Jonathan Ornstein, speaking of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
Island Air, which operates more than 100 interisland flights a day and serves many of the state's smaller airports, said it was running a full operation yesterday after canceling several flights on Sunday. CEO Rob Mauracher said Island Air used additional aircraft yesterday to transport passengers who were stuck.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said 14 flights scheduled yesterday to Honolulu and the neighbor islands were operating normally with no significant delays.
Japan Airlines also was back to normal yesterday after experiencing delays on outbound flights from Hawaii on Sunday by an average of five to six hours for its six flights, according to spokesman Gilbert Kimura.
Kimura said the Japanese passengers likely took in stride their arrival in an earthquake-affected area.
"In Japan there's more earthquakes than anywhere else, being a volcanic island," he said. "I don't think this kind of earthquake will bother them. They shrug it off."
One worry the airlines do not appear to have is a ready supply of jet fuel, even though the state's two oil refineries, run by Tesoro Hawaii and Chevron, were shut down for inspections after the earthquake. Joe Lovan, general manager of Aircraft Service International Group, which is the operator of Hawaii Fueling Facilities Corp., said there would be no problem accommodating airlines departing from Hawaii, even if the refineries remain out of service for several days.
Aloha Airlines gets its fuel from Aircraft Service International Group, while Hawaiian Airlines said it will be unaffected by the refinery shutdowns because it ships its fuel from Singapore.