Airline’s shutdown affects schools’ off-island trips
The end of Aloha Airlines passenger service is disrupting field trips for isle students and worrying some private schools as they realize parents who work with the company are losing their jobs.
Aloha's departure also comes about a month ahead of a busy sports season for more than 3,000 students who will compete in tournaments on all major islands.
Mid-Pacific Institute has identified six Aloha employees whose children attend the private school in Manoa, said its chief financial officer, Pat Garvey.
"That may be an issue for us," he said of parents' ability to cover tuition, which will rise next school year to $16,000 from $15,000. "It's real early to tell."
Iolani School has "several parents" employed by Aloha, including a couple who both are pilots, said spokeswoman Cathy Lee Chong. The school's financial aid department would be "more sensitive" to parents who work at Aloha and become unemployed, she said.
Meanwhile, Iolani is searching for a flight for about 70 fourth-graders and 25 adults who made reservations with Aloha for an annual trip to the Big Island April 9-11, Chong said.
The group is scheduled to visit a coffee farm in Kona and ride buses to Hilo to see heiau and Kilauea volcano.
"The teachers are looking at other options as far as transportation to the Big Island," Chong said.
Also in jeopardy is Niu Valley Middle School's presence at the Hilo Band Festival on May 10 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. About 80 Niu Valley band students and chaperones have each spent about $200 for a ticket with Aloha and a two-night hotel stay on the Big Island, said Principal Justin Mew. "It's so valuable to have kids play with each other. ... We will do what we can to make it happen, but it will be that much more difficult," Mew said. "The show must go on."
Educators also are concerned that the exit of Aloha will drive up fare prices and strain schools' travel budgets.
The state Department of Education received almost $118,000 from the Legislature this school year for student trips, said Susan Sato, an educational specialist for student activities with the Education Department.
The money pays for trips to two leadership workshops for about 300 students, and trips for school teams that qualify for contests outside their island, Sato said.
"Any time you have one of the major airlines shut down and you have less competition, that means the fares will go up, right?" she said.
Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, said he is optimistic that Hawaiian Airlines will be able to take teams to 15 state tournaments, beginning May 6 with the girls golf championships at Wailua Golf Course on Kauai.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wailua Golf Course on Kauai was originally misspelled as Waialua Golf Course in this article.