19-Person Plane Starting Service This Fall
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Come this fall, a larger plane will once again be servicing Molokai travelers. Mokulele’s parent company, Southern Airways, will be bringing in a 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900 aircraft to offer two roundtrips to Honolulu from Molokai and Lanai most weekdays initially, the airline announced.
Tickets will be available starting this summer to begin service in the fall, pending the approval of the Dept. of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.
The pressurized, twin-engine turboprop aircraft will allow kupuna and those with limited mobility greater ease in boarding and moving in the cabin, said Mokulele Chief Marketing Officer Keith Sisson. The airline said its new plane will also be available for specialty charters, like high school athletic teams traveling to neighbor islands for sporting events.
“Adding this aircraft type to their fleet will offer ease and convenience for Molokai and Lanai residents who have special travel needs, as well as offering an alternative to people that prefer flying on a larger aircraft,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director Ross Higashi.
The Beechcraft 1900 will be operated under the Southern Airways brand as a way to differentiate its flights from the Mokulele single-engine Caravan aircraft that currently operate around the state. But Sissan said reservations between the two will be seamless.
“Not only will pricing be the same as on our Caravans, but tickets can be exchanged between aircraft types, and existing customer credits can be used interchangeably,” he said.
Mokulele currently operates 31 flights departing Molokai on peak days.
“Demand has continued a steady increase since the first of the year, with very solid demand beginning in early April,” added Sissan. “We continue to add aircraft and crews to satisfy demand so that we can keep our promise of no ‘sold-out’ days.”
Sissan said right now, the airline’s primary customers remain kama’aina residents, but he expects an increase in tourism later this year.
“These larger planes will help us ensure that our primary customers — the people of Molokai and Lanai — are not disrupted by the return of tourists,” he said.
“This is a logical next step for our airline as we continue to rebound from the COVID pandemic and continue to show our commitment to the people of Hawaii,” said Stan Little, chairman and CEO of Southern Airways and Mokulele. “It will be a proud day in the 27-year history of Mokulele when this aircraft has its inaugural flight this fall.”