Hawaiian, go! and others pick up slack
Isle airlines are adjusting their routes, capacity and employment to keep air traffic flowing smoothly in the state after Aloha Airlines shut down its passenger operations late Monday.
Hawaiian Airlines, which said it flew close to 700 passengers displaced by Aloha yesterday, added 6,000 seats per day. The airline brought a spare wide-body Boeing 767 into service for an additional six daily trips to Maui and added one morning and one evening rotation to its existing routes, said Blaine Miyasato, vice president of customer services.
"This schedule isn't going away," he said. "We are going to make sure that people can get where they need to go."
The state's largest interisland carrier also is offering a free one-time trans-Pacific flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles today for an estimated 110 passengers displaced by Aloha. The airline flew about 25 of Aloha's displaced trans-Pacific customers yesterday, Miyasato said.
Hawaiian will continue to charge $49 per one-way interisland seat through Monday, Miyasato said.
Island Air, which operates six 37-seat de Havilland Dash 8s, is adding two flights between Maui and Hilo to accommodate passengers traveling for the annual Merrie Monarch Festival. The airline's pricing hasn't changed, said spokeswoman B.J. Whitman.
Mokulele Airlines Chief Executive Bill Boyer said he already has hired eight of the 1,900 Aloha employees laid off by Aloha this week and has plans this spring to hire up to 15 more baggage handlers and ticket agents as well as pilots to his staff of 59. Demand has risen by nearly a third in the past two days, he said.
"It has impacted us a little bit, because we are nearly full at capacity," he said. "It kind of scares me a little bit. I'm happy that I've got more planes coming at the time they are."
Phoenix-based Mesa announced on Sunday plans for go! to expand service from 54 to 94 flights a day beginning yesterday, in part by adding two aircraft to its fleet of five 50-seat CRJ-200s, to meet additional capacity on its four main routes between Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.
Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ornstein said yesterday the airline will likely add another plane this month and might replace its current fleet with the more efficient 90-seat CRJ-900 aircraft.
"Clearly, there's additional demand," he said. "We are increasing service almost 100 percent."