Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Sunday, September 2, 2001

Air Canada beefs up service to Hawaii

Air Canada will increase the number of available airplane seats between Hawaii and Vancouver when it doubles its daily service between the two cities and increases Maui service to five times weekly.

The airline will offer a total of 21 round trip flights per week between Hawaii and Vancouver beginning Nov. 30.

For its Honolulu service Air Canada will use a 421-seat Boeing 747. The Maui Service will be operated with a 198-seat Boeing 767-200 aircraft.

The new service follows a recent announcement by the airline that it plans to introduce a three-times weekly Toronto-Melbourne service via Honolulu on Nov. 30. Air Canada now operates 10 weekly flights between Canada and Australia via Honolulu.

State rental trust fund to grant low-interest loans

The Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii will be accepting applications for its Rental Housing Trust Fund low-interest loans and grants to help develop affordable rental projects.

The applications, which will be available by Nov. 2, must be completed and returned by Jan. 25.

Private and public developers may apply for the funds as along as at least 10 percent of their proposed project will be affordable to people making 30 percent or less of the area median income. At least 50 percent of the project units must be affordable to those making 60 percent of the area median income and the remaining units must be affordable to persons making 100 percent or less of the area median income.

In addition to the affordable rental project loans, grants and loans are also available to non-profit organizations to help them achieve specific goals related to providing affordable housing. Those applications will be available beginning Feb. 28.

For more information, call 587-0597.

Nansay Hawaii sends plan for paying tax debt

HILO >> The owner of a Kona property near the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park has sent the county a proposal to settle its tax debt of nearly $4 million, Hawaii County officials said.

Gino Gabrio, an attorney for Nansay Hawaii, sent the proposal in a letter dated Aug. 24 to Lincoln Ashida, corporation counsel for the county.

At issue is the 445-acre property formerly owned by Nansay Hawaii north of Kailua-Kona, commonly known as "Pine Trees."

The contents of the letter have not been disclosed.

Finance Director Bill Takaba said while it is possible the county will reach a settlement with Nansay, "there are a couple things we are very concerned about, and we will work with them."

Sugar farmers urged to destroy part of crop

WASHINGTON >> U.S. sugar farmers are being offered cash to plow under part of their crop for the second straight year, to reduce supply, lift prices and cut government storage costs.

The Agriculture Department wants to reduce supplies of government-owned sugar amounting to 741,148 tons, which taxpayers are paying $1.35 million a month to store.

The goal is to reduce this year's harvest, which is projected at 8.405 million short tons of cane and beet sugar. By reducing supply, the USDA hopes prices will increase. That may discourage farmers from defaulting on government loans, and repaying the debt with sugar instead of cash.

The U.S. sugar cane and beet crop was worth $1.2 billion last year, seventh most valuable of U.S. agricultural commodities.

Under the program, farmers would voluntarily destroy some of the acres they planted this year, in exchange for certificates for government-owned sugar, which could be redeemed for cash. The government has not placed a price tag on the program.



Travel agents, in Hawaii and across the country. Agents organized a concerted demonstration at the Federal Building in Honolulu Thursday, timed with similar protests across the country. The agents are upset by airline policies that continue to erode commissions paid to agents for booking tickets. The airlines, of course, would prefer you use the Internet, where they save 80 percent to 90 percent of ticket distribution costs. (And you just never mind that shipping fee).

Kona Surf Resort, which may have a chance to return to life on the Big Island. The resort, which has been closed for a year and fallen into disrepair, has been sold to a new owner, who -- get this -- actually plans to fix it up and run it as a resort. What strange times we live in.

Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, which seems set to receive a much-needed $24 million renovation. The institutional-looking Waikiki mall needs the rehab, set to include a cultural center, to keep up with its neighbors, DFS Galleria and the still-under-construction 2100 Kalakaua, plus the forthcoming $300 million upgrade of Outrigger's properties in the area. Hopefully the overall effect will be to restore some grace to the overbuilt tourist corridor.


The Hawaii Medical Service Association, which is taking hits on several fronts. While fending off growing concern it has tucked excessive amounts of money away in reserve at the same time it hikes rates, it now has angered doctors statewide by slipping into a standard form a new phrase allowing it to access physicians' personal medical records. HMSA either sought to slip one by all the doctors, or didn't understand why this would upset anybody. No matter which, its dominant market position demands it be more accountable, and responsible.

Investors, many of whom are likely wishing they simply took the summer off. The Dow Jones average and the Nasdaq are back at the same place they were in early April. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 5 percent of its value, while the Nasdaq dropped almost 6 percent. By now, hopes are turning to cold weather sending the bears into hibernation.

Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp., which is moving 17 jobs from the Big Island to the mainland, without offering current employees the option of moving as well. The company, now owned by San Francisco-base Shansby Group, said its growth potential lies on the mainland and that's where its employees need to be.

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