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POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Decrease in air travel eases

NEW YORK » The International Air Transport Association said worldwide passenger traffic may have stabilized in June, in part because lower fares got more people on planes.

Airlines cut fares on many routes to fill planes as fewer people flew because of the weak global economy.

Total traffic fell 7.1 percent from a year ago, following a 9.2 percent decline in May. IATA said the decline moderated in both premium and economy travel.

But the front of the plane (first and business class) is still hurting much more than coach.

Premium traffic fell 21.3 percent in June from 23.6 percent in May, while economy traffic slipped 5.5 percent after a 7.6 decline in May.

Air Canada adds nonstop isle flights

Montreal-based Air Canada said yesterday it will add a seasonal flight between Hawaii and Calgary this winter that offers the only nonstop service between the two destinations.

The service will shave off more than 2 1/2 hours of travel time for customers and will begin Dec. 5 with stops in Honolulu and Maui.

“;We expect this new service to be particularly popular with Albertans looking to escape winter and enjoy the tropical Hawaiian islands,”; said Marcel Forget, vice president of Network Planning, Air Canada.

Air Canada's new Hawaii-Calgary flights are also timed for connections to and from Edmonton and other points in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Toronto and points across eastern Canada.

Air Canada will operate these flights five times weekly using a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Economy fares will start at $245 each way with executive-class service available. The Hawaii-Calgary flights will complement the carrier's 15 weekly flights during peak winter from Hawaii to Vancouver, B.C.

Kaiser workers to hold rally

Between 400 and 500 Unite Here Local 5 workers from Kaiser Permanente are expected to hold a sign-waving rally starting at 5 p.m. today in front of the clinic at Pensacola and South King streets.

Local 5 says the rally is in connection with workers' efforts to secure a new contract for nearly 1,800 union workers employed by the state's largest health maintenance organization on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

A five-year contract entered in 2004, originally set to expire at the end of June, was extended to the end of this month.

Front-line workers are seeking reasonable working conditions, staffing levels and job security in order to deliver quality patient care, according to Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe.

Surgical center venture finalized

Surgical Care Affiliates, a specialty surgical services provider, and Hawaii Pacific Health Partners Inc. have finalized their joint venture to construct and operate a new outpatient surgery center in downtown Honolulu.

The new center will be moving into the former dollar theater that ceased operating in August at its Waterfront Plaza location on Ala Moana Boulevard. Once open, the center will offer an array of surgical services, including orthopedics, pain management, ophthalmology, general surgery, otolaryngology, urology, obstetrics/gynecology, plastics and podiatry.

Hoku gets trade zone status

BOISE, Idaho » Hoku Scientific Inc., the Honolulu-based company that is building a polysilicon plant in Pocatello, Idaho, won't have to pay duties on foreign raw materials it eventually plans to send back overseas.

Hoku, which aims to manufacture and sell polysilicon for the solar market at the yet-unfinished plant, said this favorable ruling by the U.S. Department of Commerce will reduce its costs and help keep it afloat as it scrambles to prop up finances. The company still needs to come up with more than $100 million of the plant's $390 million total cost at a time when funding sources have dried up.

GM raises output as sales grow

General Motors Co. announced yesterday it is boosting production by 60,000 vehicles in the third and fourth quarters as sales rise due to the “;cash for clunkers”; incentives and a recovery in the U.S. market.

About 1,350 laid-off workers will be recalled, while 10,000 more will get a shot at overtime pay.

ON THE MOVE

Hawaii National Bank has promoted the following:

» Ritchie Koyanagi to vice president and senior credit officer from vice president and East Oahu regional manager.

» Dennis Wong will assume Koyanagi's duties and merge with his other Oahu territories to become Oahu regional manager.

» Kurt Kunihiro to vice president and senior lending officer in the main branch from vice president and corporate loan officer.

» Honolulu Theatre for Youth has named the following officers and members to its Board of Trustees: Van Cornwell, president; Steve Trecker, vice president; Kristi Maynard, treasurer; Bonnie Fong, secretary; and Tim Bostock, former president. New trustees are Trini Kaopuiki Clark, Mark Haworth and James Kellett Tam.