Hope is in the Air

Kalaupapa gets second air option

Pacific Wings has withdrawn its request for federal subsidies to serve Kalaupapa, but two other airlines want to save the isolated peninsula from high prices.

Makani Kai and Iolani Air currently provide tours throughout the isles by helicopter and airplane, including Kalaupapa. But representatives from both say they want to begin regular service to the peninsula for residents and workers.

Richard Schuman, CEO of Makani Air, said his airline would be able to offer round trip flights between Honolulu and Kalaupapa for around $125. They also offer a lower price from Honolulu to Ho`olehua for $60 one-way.

The prices Iolani Air charges for their tours of Kalaupapa would be about the same as scheduled service – around $140 round trip from topside Molokai to the peninsula, according to R.D. Stewart, general manager of Iolani Air.

Both airlines need to obtain a commuter’s license to serve Kalaupapa’s residents. Schuman said his paperwork is about 90 percent complete, and they may be able to begin service as early as next month.

Pacific Wings currently has Essential Air Service (EAS) with Kalaupapa, which allows airlines to provide service to remote areas.  Pacific Wings has service in many Hawaiian airports, but withdrew many of the services after issues with the Department of Transportation. Since losing part of their customer base, they increased their prices to the desolate peninsula, causing anxiety for many of its residents that depend on air service.

If Pacific Wings had followed through with its plan for using federal subsidies, CEO Greg Kahlstorf said he would have lowered their prices.

“What Pacific Wings has done is not ethical,” Schuman said.

Neither Makani Air nor Iolani Air are applying for federal subsides.

Schuman is confident he can run his business charging customers on his predicted prices.

“I can run my business with these prices and I’m still making a profit,” Shuman said.

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