Focus has been on cargo service and economic transformation
Editor's note: A federal bankruptcy court judge decided Thursday to allow Aloha Airlines' cargo division to resume service for two weeks pending its sale to Saltchuk Resources.
It is not surprising that news media and pundits are turning to government to intervene in the wake of Aloha Airlines' decision to cease its cargo operations. But calls by our daily newspapers and others to "summon a roundtable" or convene a blue-ribbon task force to talk about the situation are not what Hawaii residents and businesses need.
This is a time for action and leadership. Since the Lingle administration first became aware of Aloha's situation, Gov. Linda Lingle and her cabinet have been taking action.
Even before Aloha's announcement on April 28, the governor's directors of transportation, airports, harbors, tourism, agriculture, labor, human resources, business development and others have been working closely with both the private and public sectors to ensure the continuity of cargo service in the event that agreement could not be reached on the sale of Aloha's cargo operations.
State officials have been in ongoing discussions with other air and sea cargo operators, including Hawaiian, Pacific Air Cargo, Young Brothers and others to assist in developing contingency plans for increasing cargo capacity, such as adding flights, bringing in new aircraft and making appropriate arrangements at airports and harbors to accommodate any change in service.
The administration also has been in close contact with key shippers who depend on interisland service, including the U.S. Postal Service and the agriculture industry, to facilitate their contingency plans to minimize disruption in the delivery of vital cargo.
While the administration is working to minimize the short-term effect on Hawaii businesses and residents, we feel it equally important to implement a comprehensive approach to equip the Hawaii economy and our businesses with the resiliency to meet the inevitable economic challenges our state has and will face.
We accomplish this by focusing on building the innovative capacity of our residents and businesses. Innovation, as it applies to the state's transportation sector, means more efficient use of the $5 billion worth of oil we import every year. Improving this efficiency and thereby reducing costs is a key part the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.
Innovation also means adopting alternative and advanced transportation technologies, such as interisland ferries. The administration also is investing in critical public infrastructure such as airports, harbors and highways. These long-term structural fixes will have more impact than any short-term talk.
These efforts are continuing, often behind the scenes. They don't require a news conference or a task force as some in the media have suggested. They require the type of focused attention, leadership and action that Lingle and her administration continue to demonstrate.
The business decision by Aloha's mainland creditors to end its cargo operations is unfortunate and will affect some residents and business in the short term. However, this proactive approach by our administration and the resiliency of the private sector to adapt and seize opportunities will ensure the long-term economic future our state.
Theodore E. Liu is director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.