Maui airline
gains its hangar

By Lyn Danninger

Pacific Wings, the Maui-based airline that had been struggling unsuccessfully with the state Department of Transportation to obtain additional hangar space, will be able to enlarge its facilities at Kahului Airport.

The company has been granted a 25-year lease by the department's Airports Division to construct a hangar and headquarters complex.

The company, which has the federal Essential Air Service contract to serve remote and rural Hawaii communities, had cut some flights due to inadequate maintenance facilities at the airport.

The lease agreement will not take effect until it has been given the green light by the state Attorney General's Office. But the company will likely be able to begin construction sooner under an interim permit, company President Greg Kahlstorf said.

Pacific Wings plans to construct a three-story maintenance and headquarters complex on the east side of Kahului airport.

Ground-breaking will likely take place within 90 days with an estimated completion date in of the middle of next year, Kahlstorf said.

With the additional space, Kahlstorf said the company will also purchase new aircraft. Currently the company flies Cessna 402s but will add a minimum of three new nine-passenger Cessna Caravan aircraft. Kahlstorf said the propjet aircraft are substantially roomier, can carry more cargo and are quieter than the current fleet of planes it uses.

The company is also considering partnerships with other airlines that would allow it to operate larger regional jets under a code-sharing agreement.

Kahlstorf said such a plan is now under discussion with more than one airline.

But until such a deal is finished, he would not disclose further details.

For the past few years, Pacific Wings had been located in a temporary trailer on the edge of the Kahului Airport runway.

Its planes had been serviced in an aging temporary storage hangar which led the company to begin a series of requests for either a permanent lease to build its own facility or access to more state-owned hangar space from the Department of Transportation.

Kahlstorf said he believes the timing of the state approval couldn't be better for the airline, given the recent failed merger between Hawaiian and Aloha.

"The recent merger talks have left confidence shaken in the future of inter-island air transportation," he said. "I think local people are looking for an airline that is committed to the community."

E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin