Kauai feeling brunt of cargo woes
A food industry official looks to the Superferry
LIHUE » Dick Botti, president of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, said his constituents are already feeling the pressure of Aloha Airlines' cargo service shutdown in their grocery aisles, especially on Kauai.
That is why he is pushing for a return of the Hawaii Superferry to Kauai, something executives at the company would not rule out last night.
The Superferry "stands ready to help our neighbors on Maui and Kauai," Tom Fargo, Superferry's new chief executive officer, said in a statement last night. "Once we've been made aware of what those needs are, we will do everything we can to respond."
Without the Superferry, "everybody's going to be affected," Botti said, "either with shortages or with higher prices."
Starting today, companies with direct shipping of perishable goods such as bread and milk will have to pay more to bring their goods to Kauai or do without, he said. Anything with a finite shelf life that has to be rotated on a regular basis will eventually be affected by the closure, as higher shipping prices and a lack of space squeeze the market, said Botti.
"If the (Superferry) could get out there tomorrow, that would alleviate both the problems," he added. "This is a good test for the people of Kauai (to see) what they want."
Botti has asked every food store on Kauai that he represents to send letters to the Kauai County Council asking for its support to bring back the Superferry, which was greeted by protests last summer. He is hoping the Council, which passed a unanimous resolution in 2006 asking the Superferry not to sail without an environmental impact statement, will revisit the issue at its next meeting.
Councilman Tim Bynum, who was not on the Council when the resolution was passed, said that despite Aloha's shutdown, the Superferry should not return until all environmental impacts have been studied and mitigated.
"Then, I think, they will find the people of Kauai more receptive," he said. "We have very specific concerns on Kauai that other islands may not have," such as invasive coqui frogs and mongooses.