CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Joe Souza of Y. Hata and Co. unloaded cargo bound for Kauai yesterday at Honolulu Airport. The firm is using Hawaiian Airlines because Aloha Air's cargo operation abruptly shut Monday.
Firms want Kauai ferry service
Food industry leaders ask for help in getting the Superferry to sail to assist with cargo
LIHUE » A number of food industry executives, led by Love's Bakery President Mike Walters, are asking the Hawaii Superferry, Gov. Linda Lingle and Kauai politicians to bring the Superferry back to Kauai.
Walters, whose bakery shipment to Kauai was still sitting in Los Angeles late last night, met with Superferry executives yesterday, asking them to return to the Garden Isle for cargo purposes.
Dick Botti, president of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, a lobbying firm, also sent a memo to Linda Smith, Lingle's chief policy adviser, asking her to help out to get the Superferry back to Kauai.
"We desperately need it," Botti said. "If we don't (get it), the people will suffer."
Members of the Lingle administration said last night that it's up to the Superferry to chart its next trip to Kauai.
Superferry officials remained noncommittal.
But Botti also urged all his vendors on Kauai to contact the Kauai County Council and ask them to support the Superferry's return.
Jimmy Trujillo, one of the organizers of the anti-Superferry movement on Kauai, said the vessel still is not wanted.
"Aloha Air cargo is certainly a valued service. Perhaps Aloha Airlines should have been the beneficiary of a special legislative session," Trujillo said.
"The military cargo Strykerferry isn't the vehicle to carry depleted uranium and baked goods," he added.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii Farm Bureau is looking into alternatives to help farmers transport produce in the wake of the sudden shutdown of Aloha Airlines' cargo operations.
"It's going to take a concerted effort by all parties to find alternatives and solutions," said Executive Director Alan Takemoto.
Some farmers and distributors affected by the shutdown are likely to turn to Hawaiian Airlines, Young Bros., the Hawaii Superferry and interisland cargo companies.
But officials fear that those affected by the shutdown will be forced to increase prices.
The farm bureau was inundated with calls yesterday from farmers looking for alternatives to transport their produce.
"They're at a standstill right now," Takemoto said.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Agriculture said officials were assessing the situation yesterday.
Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms in Waimanalo and president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau, said the shutdown puts a lot of farmers at risk.
For 12 years, Okimoto said, Aloha's cargo service was Nalo Farms' sole cargo carrier for perishable items that include tomatoes, onions and lettuce flown to Oahu from the Big Island and Maui. Nalo Farms distributes produce to 80 restaurants on Oahu and a number of restaurants on the neighbor islands.
Kelvin Shigemura, vice president of Armstrong Produce Ltd., used Hawaiian Airlines Monday to fly produce to Kauai soon after the announcement. The company also secured Trans Air, an interisland cargo company, to transport produce to and from Oahu.