Transportation

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Halts Flights

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

‘Ohana by Hawaiian air service will indefinitely suspend flights to Molokai and Lanai on Jan. 14, the airline told employees in a letter from a company official last week. The move leaves Mokulele Airlines as the sole air carrier serving Molokai.

“Our low levels of inter-island flying, caused by depressed demand across our network due to travel restrictions, triggered a provision in our labor contracts that prevents us from offering this third-party passenger and all-cargo service,” wrote Executive Vice President and COO Jon Snook in the letter that employees received last Wednesday, Jan. 6.

In October, the airline announced it would suspend flights on Nov.…

New MEO Bus

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

New MEO Bus

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

A new bus was blessed at Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) Molokai last week. The 18-seat bus is the 13th bus in MEO’s Molokai fleet and is equipped with a wheelchair lift as well as seat harnesses built into the seats, according to Yolanda Reyes, MEO Molokai branch director.

“It will be used for all transportation routes but mainly for our Head Start children as their chair harnesses are already built in on each seat,” said Reyes. “Previously we needed to install each seat harness when there was an excursion for the children but now they are already built in.”…

Residents: Travel Rules Appear to Favor Visitors

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

As Hawaii’s COVID-19 numbers continue to level off averaging around 100 new cases per day and no new recent cases for Molokai, daily cases across the mainland have reached all-time highs. The U.S. surpassed 11 million cases on Sunday, and one million just in the last week alone, according to the latest data.

Meanwhile, Hawaii residents continue to live under strict travel regulations, as visitors from mainland are welcomed by the state. As officials seek to balance safety with economic recovery, some locals say they feel visitors are being prioritized over residents. And as many in the Molokai community continue to hunker down and avoid travel, partly due to the many hoops of paperwork, testing, quarantine rules and regulatory hassle, some are getting fed up.…

Travel Rules Cause Frustration, Masks Remain Mandatory

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Confusion over current travel rules continues, as residents try to navigate the ever-changing regulations of COVID-19 and a slew of forms, exemptions, protocols and quarantine regulations.

Returning part-time Molokai resident was reduced to tears after a frustrating travel experience arriving at the Molokai airport recently. Kim Potter of Kauai, who said she travels frequently for work as a first responder with FEMA, had a “nightmare experience” after a glitch in the Maui County system that travel verification workers use to check people’s addresses as they arrive at the airport left her scrambling to make calls to those her could vouch for her condo ownership and address.…

‘Ohana to Continue Service, Mokulele in Financial Hardship

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

After announcing they would temporarily stop service on Nov. 1, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian will now continue flying “through at least January 2021,” the airline said in a statement last week.

A “dormant” Essential Air Service (EAS) provision covers flights to Molokai and Lanai, requiring a 90-day notice for disruption of service, according to the Dept. of Transportation. Ross Higashi, deputy director of the airports division, said in a state Senate Transportation Committee virtual meeting last week that the EAS designation wasn’t being evoked for years because multiple airlines were providing commercial air service to Molokai and Lanai.…

Quarantine Exemption for Medical Travel

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

County of Maui News Release

Mayor Michael Victorino announced that Maui County residents traveling for medical purposes will be exempt from quarantine and will not need to take a pre-departure test for COVID-19.

“We know many of our residents in Maui County need to travel briefly to Oahu for medical purposes or to undergo medical procedures or treatment that’s not available here at home,” Mayor Victorino said. “This exemption allows for same day or overnight travel for patients get their needed treatment. Hopefully, it will reduce the amount of anxiety they experience in an already stressful situation.”

This exemption is available only to those not subject to any other quarantine.…

Understanding New Travel Requirements

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Now that many travel rules have recently changed, are you looking to finally leave Molokai and confused about where you can and can’t fly, if you need a test and whether you have to still quarantine? We’ll break down the new rules for you here.

Travel to Maui or Lanai: If you’re traveling within Maui County without a stopover in any other county, you don’t need to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine. You just need to fill out the state’s Safe Travels Health Screening to get a QR code for quicker airport screening.

Travel to Oahu or another county: You don’t need to test prior to departure, or quarantine when you land on Oahu, but to return home to Molokai, you need to either show a negative test result within the past 72 hours, or follow the 14-day quarantine requirement.…

Mokulele to Provide Wheelchair Access

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

When Makani Kai Air began flying into Kalaupapa in 2011, owner Richard Schuman identified the need for a simple, light and easy to operate wheelchair lift to assist patient passengers onto the airline’s small Cessna aircraft. It didn’t exist. So he designed and built one.

Now, with wheelchair accessible options dwindling for Molokai air passengers, the “Schuman lift” will be used by Mokulele Airlines on topside Molokai, Honolulu, Kahului and Lanai.

Mokulele’s policy previously stated it could not accommodate passengers needing wheelchairs due to logistical challenges with its small aircraft. But when ‘Ohana by Hawaiian made an announcement two weeks ago that the company will temporarily halt service starting Nov.…

‘Ohana by Hawaiian to Suspend Service

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

‘Ohana by Hawaiian to Suspend Service

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

‘Ohana by Hawaiian, one of the two passenger air carriers serving Molokai, announced last Friday it will temporarily stop service beginning Nov. 1 due to low travel demand from COVID-19. Flights between Honolulu, Molokai and Lanai will be affected.

‘Ohana’s 48-seat ATR-42 turboprop aircraft represent the only planes currently serving Molokai that accommodate passengers boarding in a wheelchair and those weighing more than 350 pounds. Along with concerns that its suspension of service will leave those who are wheelchair bound without travel options, ‘Ohana’s termination would also leave its Molokai employees, as well as local TSA agents, jobless.…

No New Cases Last Week

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Molokai logged no new COVID-19 cases last week, as statewide, the total cases as of last Friday reached 13,300 and COVID-19-related deaths in Hawaii totaled 166 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Starting this week on Oct. 15, the state will allow a pre-testing program for residents and visitors entering Hawaii that will allow travelers to bypass the 14-day quarantine if they show a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. Mayor Michael Victorino requested for an additional layer of safety for Maui County by also requiring a post-arrival test, but that request was denied by Gov.…