Alakai to enter dry dock


POSTED: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hawaii Superferry will cease operations for just more than two weeks on Feb. 2 for annual maintenance and re-certification required by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The mandatory shut down will affect 700 customers with reservations from Feb. 2-17. The company is offering a full refund or option to rebook at a later date. It plans to resume service Feb. 18.

“;We've had this two-week docking period in our business plan for the year, this is not something unexpected,”; said Superferry Chief Executive Tom Fargo.

The best time to do repair work is during the winter months, when the ferry maintains nominal loads of passengers and commercial business, he said.

The 349-foot vessel was forced into an early dry dock a year ago because of high seas and equipment-related shutdowns. At the time, the company said it closed early to take advantage of the off-peak travel season.

The Superferry plans to clean and paint the hull, as well as inspect fittings below water level. Fargo said he doesn't expect any delays, and couldn't provide firm numbers on the cost of repair and maintenance work. He wouldn't disclose the projected loss in revenue due to the two-week closure.

For the first 11 days of the month, the Superferry averaged a little more than 280 people a segment, in addition to a cross section of large and small businesses that include Love's Bakery, FedEx and small craftsmen. The company expects customers to be well more than 400 a segment in the peak spring and summer months.

“;If anything, we've got a better situation now because the price of fuel is a lot lower,”; Fargo said. “;The ridership has ramped up on the model that we projected for the business plan.”;

The Superferry's break-even business model is dependent largely on the price of fuel. One-way tickets are currently priced at $49 for adults and $39 for seniors, children and members of the military. Vehicles cost $65.

The Alakai seats up to 800 passengers and can handle about 200 vehicles. The Superferry sails daily in the mornings from Honolulu to Maui and Monday through Saturday mornings from Maui to Honolulu. It sails from Maui to Honolulu in the afternoon on Sunday.