Battle of the Airlines

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018


It’s a battle of the airlines to the tiny settlement of Kalaupapa, with two companies vying for the ridership of residents. In a drama that will play out in the coming weeks, both Makani Kai Air and Mokulele Airlines are now flying into the peninsula.

In March, Mokulele Airlines was selected to service the settlement under the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program beginning June 1, but without the federal subsidy that normally offsets the cost of flying into remote locations that otherwise might not get air service. Makani Kai has been serving Kalaupapa under the EAS since 2011, also applied to renew its EAS contract, requesting about $700,000 annually.…

Mokulele Selected to Serve Kalaupapa

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Mokulele Airlines has been selected to fly into Kalaupapa under the federal Essential Air Service program without subsidized funding, despite concerns from the community. The airline has not yet finalized its flight schedule or pricing for its service to the isolated settlement, which will begin June 1.

The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) announced their decision on March 16, and Mokulele representatives met with Kalaupapa residents the following week to discuss their needs.

“I would say there’s a guarded optimism that Mokulele will serve the community and meet our needs, but there’re still concerns,” said Department of Health Kalaupapa Adminstrator Kenneth Seamon.…

Bids For Kalaupapa’s Air Service

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

For residents of Kalaupapa, their airline is their lifeline. It’s the sole means of travel for patient residents — and for staff and visitors, landing at the isolated peninsula’s tiny airport is the only way to avoid the arduous three-mile hike up and down the pali trail. Federal funding supports the regularly-scheduled affordable flights currently provided by Makani Kai Air but the Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy contract expires in May, and residents are concerned for the future.

Makani Kai has been serving Kalaupapa under the EAS subsidy with the support of the community since 2011. Now, two other airlines have submitted applications for Kalaupapa’s EAS contract awarded by the U.S.…

Kalaupapa Flight Concerns

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Community Contributed

By Richard Miller

Editor’s note: The Kalaupapa community is circulating a petition for their voice to be heard in the selection of the airline that serves the peninsula through the federally awarded Essential Air Service subsidy. Makani Kai currently provides affordable flights to Kalaupapa through the EAS, however residents are concerned that may soon change. For more information or to sign the petition, email, or

The Kalaupapa peninsula is a remote triangular shaped area jutting out of the north shore of the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.  The peninsula is surrounded on two sides by ocean, and on the third by the highest sea cliffs in the world.…

Ferry System Not Feasible

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

A state ferry system is not feasible, and neither is bringing back the Molokai to Maui ferry, even though it may be needed, according to a recent study from the Department of Transportation.

After being tasked with conducting the study by the state Legislature in 2016, the DOT examined the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of several types of ferries in Hawaii. It looked at an inter-island ferry, an intra-county ferry between Molokai and Maui, and intra-island ferries between West Oahu and Honolulu and between West and Central Maui.

The study reviewed the controversial Superferry, which served Oahu, Maui and Kauai between 2007 to 2009, as well as the recently shut down Molokai Princess, which ended operation between Molokai and Maui in 2016, after claiming financial hardship.…

Ohana Reduces Molokai Flights

Friday, September 8th, 2017


Ohana by Hawaiian, an inter-island flight service of Hawaiian Airlines, will be reducing its flights to Molokai this month. Many residents say the changes will cause hardship for kupuna who need the wheelchair accessibility of Ohana’s larger aircraft not offered by the two other smaller  airlines serving Molokai.

“I’m concerned about ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance, we don’t have the ferry,” said Rep. Lynn DeCoite of Molokai.  “My concern is now, do we have to airlift guys out of there?”

In addition to wheelchair accessibility, the smaller aircraft operated by  Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air have weight limitations of 350 pounds maximum per passenger, so some residents are limited to travel on Ohana’s larger aircraft.…

Trail Access Threatens Mule Ride

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Trail Access Threatens Mule Ride

The Sproat family, owners of Molokai’s legendary mule ride, say they’re worried land access issues may prevent the business from continuing operation.

The Kalae barn that serves as their base of business — home to the mules that make daily guided trips down the rugged Kalaupapa trail — is on land owned by R.W. Meyer Ltd, leased by the Sproats. R. W. Meyer also owns the land at the trailhead by Kalae Highway, through which mules and hikers must pass to access the settlement.

The late Buzzy Sproat operated the mule ride for more than 40 years, and his family has owned the business for 25 years.…

Volunteers Carry on Search for Missing Plane

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Volunteers Carry on Search for Missing Plane

A private plane with three people onboard disappeared off Molokai’s Ilio Point on Dec. 30. After taking off from Ho`olehua Airport en route to Honolulu that evening, the Cessna 172 disappeared off radar around 7 p.m., four miles east of Ilio Point.

The plane’s pilot was Michael Childers and passengers were John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. The Coast Guard and Fire Department began searching for the plane that night, and continued until Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, respectively, finding no debris, remains or evidence of a crash. And though official searches have been called off, dozens of family members, friends and Molokai residents have continued to search miles of coastline and ocean, not yet giving up hope of finding answers.…

Breaking News: Search for Missing Cessna Continues Off Molokai

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Breaking News: Search for Missing Cessna Continues Off Molokai

The search continues today for a downed aircraft off Ilio Point that was reported missing last night. Around 7 p.m. on Dec. 30, a Cessna 172 with the tail number N174LL, with three people on board, disappeared off radar about four miles east of Molokai’s Ilio Point after departing the Molokai airport for Honolulu.

The plane’s pilot has been identified as Michael Childers, with passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is leading the search for the missing aircraft and has widened the search up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point. HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point along with the crew of USCGC Kittiwake from Honolulu are searching by boat and air, with the assistance of Molokai Fire and Police departments.…

Search Underway for Missing Molokai Helicopter-Updated

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

3:30 pm update: Maui Fire Department crews have located the crash site and confirmed there are no survivors. The downed helicopter was found about a mile and a half above the highway just east of Puko`o Fire Station. The Maui Police Department is coordinating recovery of the victims and preserving the wreckage for federal investigation. 

Initial story at 1:15 pm:

A land, air and water search is currently underway for a missing Molokai helicopter. The black helicopter, with two people on board, reportedly departed Honolulu Tuesday evening and never arrived at a private helicopter pad on Molokai as expected.

The Coast Guard hasn’t released the names of the missing persons pending notification of family members, but the pilot has been unofficially confirmed as Gary Galiher, a prominent attorney and east Molokai homeowner with a helipad on his property.…