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Island Air Reduces Molokai Flights

One of Molokai’s primary air carriers, Island Air, has made changes to their flight schedule that have raised concerns among local customers. The airline has cancelled all flights between Molokai and Maui, and as of May, will decrease flights between Molokai and Honolulu from five to three per day.

“My concern for the decrease of Island Air travel to Honolulu is for our island population,” said Molokai resident and county councilmember Stacy Crivello. “Molokai people travel to Honolulu for specialized medical needs or hospitalization that may not be provided by Molokai’s health care providers. Molokai families also utilize Island Air… to visit and care for our sick `ohana and be part of our loved one’s celebration of life.”

Les Murashige, Island Air president, said the airline is going through a transitional period with new ownership and aircraft. Lanai owner Larry Ellison bought Island Air in February. Meanwhile, the fleet is converting from Dash 8 aircraft to larger ATR 72 planes.

“Previously we had five flights [between Molokai and Honolulu] that produced 185 seats,” said Murashige. “[Now] we have three flights with 165 seats.”

Currently Island Air is operating with two of the old Dash aircraft and two new ATRs. After two additional ATRs join the fleet in July and the Dash’s are phased out, the airline’s three flights between Molokai and Honolulu will have 192 seats available per day.

“We are committed to Molokai, trust me,” he said. “We ask for [residents’] understanding.”

Short-Term Changes
Murashige said the decreased number of flights to Molokai is temporary.

“Our intent is to put additional flights back [between Molokai and Honolulu] in August or September,” said Murashige. He added that he considers five flights per day to be an ideal frequency to meet the demand. However, with Hawaiian Airlines expected to begin flights to Molokai sometime later this year, he said Island Air does expect to lose some business.

And while Island Air’s flights to Molokai have decreased, its scheduled flights to Lanai have increased.

“Island Air shouldn’t be catering to Lanai, because that’s what it looks like,” said Molokai resident Chevi Levasa. She said with the carrier’s decreased Molokai flights, Mokulele Airlines flights are already filling up around graduation time in May. “Now you’re going to be fighting for tickets,” she said.

Murashige said the scheduling decisions were based on demand, rather than possible ownership bias.

“When we looked at statistics, Lanai demand was growing,” he said, referring to recent developments on the island drawing additional tourists.

He said the same of canceled flights between Molokai and Maui, explaining the decision came down to financial feasibility. “We weren’t getting ridership to support those routes.”

Looking for Improvement
Departure delays also continue to cause complaints among Island Air customers.

“From a delay perspective, we’ve done a terrible job,” admitted Murashige. He said it’s not the fault of the airport or employees, but cited the company’s equipment.

“There are a lot of bugs to be ironed out when using new equipment,” he said. “We’re getting there slowly. We’re working very hard to do a better job.”

He said a recent loss of pilots has also contributed to delays and scheduling issues, saying a larger-than-expected number of pilots left for careers at larger airlines, leaving Island Air with an immediate need to train additional pilots, which takes about three months, he said.

“I would like to apologize that reductions in schedule may have caused in inconvenience as well as delays,” Murashige expressed to Molokai residents. “We’re working very hard to improve those situations and we hope to continue to have [your] support. We have supported this community over the years and we intend to support the community going forward.”


5 Responses to “Island Air Reduces Molokai Flights”

  1. fh says:

    We can hope for improvements but the bottom line is that no airline is going to continue flying a lot of empty seats. They will fly at times when they can fill the planes. As Molokai’s tourism has declined, so has our airline service. The more we discourage tourism, the fewer flights we will have and the higher the fares will be.

    Airlines don’t come here just because Molokai and its people are wonderful or because they have some moral obligation to loose money on us. They come to make money and there aren’t enough of us traveling back and forth for them to do so based on residents alone. Think about it.

  2. HAWAII HAWAII says:

    Who’s discouraging tourism? There’s always business with Island Air, if Island Air seats are declining maybe its because of poor service in delay of flight times. People are getting fed up with the constant delays. It happens everyday!. My family & I switched to Mokulele, rarely are they delayed majority they are ON TIME!. Before Ellison bought Island Air there were delays but since he stepped in now there’s no Molokai to Maui flights.

  3. Ron McOmber says:

    If you think that Lana’i is getting better treatment than Molokai you have no idea what we’re going through. We should be getting better service but that’s not happening here. Hunters coming to Lana’i this pass Fri. Nite couldn’t get to Lana’i until after 8:30 and one flight didn’t get here until12:30 am. I can hardly wait till Hawaiian starts. Aloha. Ron

  4. Howard Schwenk says:

    This should make some of you happy…
    NO flights In… NO flights Out. .
    No ferries IN… No ferries OUT
    No more fishing with an out board motor or any other gas engine
    Control the amount of gasoline sold on island.
    Control the type of food you eat.
    Restrict the amount of electricity one uses. stores cut back in 6 months to 1/2%

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