Island Air to End Molokai Service
Island Air will discontinue service to Molokai after April 1. In a five-sentence announcement last week, the airline said all Molokai-based employees will be offered transfer elsewhere within the company. Customers with confirmed reservations to or from the island after April 1 can either transfer their ticket to another airline or receive a refund.
Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines’ neighbor island service `Ohana by Hawaiian has announced its plans to begin flying to Molokai starting March 11.
“Now that we are certain the island of Molokai will have adequate air service to match its needs, we have decided to redeploy our aircraft to another route that needs more capacity,” Island Air CEO Paul Casey told the Dispatch via email. “The only thing constant in this business is change. And we wanted to make sure that the residents of Molokai had adequate service before making any changes to our routes.”
He said the company currently has eight full-time and seven part-time employees based on Molokai, the longest of whom has worked for the company more than 25 years.
Reactions to Island Air’s announcement have been mixed.
Some Molokai residents call it good riddance. The airline has been operating only two flights daily to Molokai since November, while redirecting five flights daily to Lanai. The carrier has also become infamous for delayed flights, which caused some customers to avoid the airline altogether.
One Molokai Dispatch Facebook commenter called his recent trip between Oahu and Molokai on Island Air “horrific,” recounting long waits and an unplanned stop to Lanai.
For others, it means one less flight option to Oahu on larger aircraft. Those requiring wheelchair accessibility or those exceeding 350 pounds in weight cannot fly Mokulele or Makani Kai’s snug, nine-seat planes. Even with `Ohana beginning service soon, it leaves Molokai residents with even fewer flight options.
And for some, Island Air’s announcement could mean the loss of their jobs.
Local employees said they were not permitted to speak to the press.
Another Facebook commenter said his neighbor is an employee of the company.
“Now my neighbor is not only going to have find another job, but also figure out how to get health insurance for his family of five,” he wrote. “And that they give very loyal, long-term employees such short notice sucks.”
Casey did not specify when asked the date Molokai employees were notified of the change, but said it was before the public announcement was made and before other Island Air employees were told.
Island Air was purchased last year by billionaire Larry Ellison, who also owns a large portion of Lanai.
Island Air instructs customers with existing reservations after April 1 to call 1-800-388-1105, or submit an inquiry through the company’s website at IslandAir.com