Hawaiian adding Hilo,
Maui flights

Hawaiian Airlines is adding daily round-trip flights to Hilo and Maui to meet peak demand and is dropping its once-a-day daily service to Lanai and Molokai because the planes are nearly empty.

However, the carrier said yesterday it has reached a code-share agreement with independent Island Air for flights to those less-traveled destinations. The code-share will allow Hawaiian to sell seats on Island Air to Lanai, Molokai and the West Maui resort area of Kapalua.

Hawaiian's move to stop flying its own planes into Lanai and Molokai will affect 14 employees -- seven on each island. Hawaiian said those employees are being offered the choice of job relocation, other employment opportunities or severance packages.

Island Air, purchased last December by California-based Gavarnie Holding LLC from Aloha Airlines' parent, also has a code-share agreement with Aloha Airgroup Inc. on all that carrier's flights.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian, which is expected to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization later this year, said it is increasing its interisland seat capacity this summer by 17 percent. The carrier will fly a daily average of 115 flights during the weekdays and 123 flights on the weekends.

All the flight changes go into effect Aug. 1.

The airline said it is adding a Honolulu-Hilo afternoon flight and a Honolulu-Maui morning route to satisfy demand and to make better use of its Boeing 717s. Island Air, which uses 37-seat aircraft, has seven and eight daily flights, respectively, to Lanai and Molokai.

Last year, Hawaiian said its Lanai and Molokai passenger counts used up only 20.9 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively, of available capacity.

"We were hearing from the kamaaina commuters and kamaaina community that we weren't flying enough (to Hilo and Maui) and that they wanted more flights," said Hawaiian trustee Joshua Gotbaum.

Gotbaum said the partnership with Island Air will enable Hawaiian to put "the right aircraft in the right airports."

"This new partnership with Hawaiian Airlines ... extends our reach to the consumer while offering benefits and more convenience for travelers," Island Air President Neil Takekawa said.

Gotbaum said the additional summer flights will help fill demand driven by the recovery in the state's tourism industry.

"The fact is there's more demand for travel in the summer and there are more tourists, so if you didn't do everything you could to fly your aircraft as much as possible, what would happen is the tourists would push out the kamaaina," he said.

Aloha Airlines announced last week that it was boosting its weekly interisland service 28 percent and was dropping all 12 first-class seats on its 10 Boeing 737-200 planes and replacing them with 21 coach seats.


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