Kalaupapa Pleads for Cheaper Flights

Memorial project proceeds.

Between cheaper flight rates and a new memorial project, Kalaupapa residents have a lot on their minds these days.

Pacific Wings, the only commercial airline that serves Kalaupapa, sent their rates skyrocketing a year ago. Residents, workers and visitors flying to the peninsula pay between $480 and $550 for a round-trip trip to Honolulu.

Pacific Wings recently applied for an Essential Air Service subsidy, which would lower rates to Kalaupapa to about $200, according to Greg Kalhstorf, CEO of Pacific Wings.

Mark Miller, Administrator for the Department of Health at Kalaupapa, said he wrote a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to support the federal subsidy. He asked the FAA for air rates to be subsidized by federal money and extra wheelchair accessibility on all airplanes.

“I want lower airfares. I don’t care how we get them,” Miller said. “I’m here to serve the patients and I’ll do whatever it takes to make life easier for them on Kalaupapa.”

The process for issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) can take 60 to 120 days. Pacific Wings put in their request on Dec. 16, 2010. 

Last week, Kahlstorf informed The Molokai Dispatch he withdrew the Request for Proposal, citing issues with the Kalaupapa administration over wheelchair access of the place used to service the peninsula.

“I want to make sure we’re all on the same page before Pacific Wings goes through with this,” Kahlstorf said.

However, the next day the FAA said the RFP hadn’t been withdrawn and was still in process.

Residents have until Jan. 18, 2011 to suggest any ideas to the FAA or to request any other airlines they feel would be suitable for Kalaupapa.

Go! Mokulele’s general manager, Chris Vandenheuvel, said he is reviewing the RFP documents and considering sending in an application to the FAA.

In the event that a new carrier is designated as with EAS subsidies, Pacific Wings can still serve Kalaupapa without the subsidy.

Kahlstorf said his business is doing fine without subsidies.

Memorial Project

The environmental assessment (EA) for the Kalaupapa Memorial Project has been completed, and is up for public review. Ka Ohana O Kalaupapa and the National Park Service (NPS) have been working on this memorial for several years, to honor the 8,000 Hansen’s disease patients that lived and died on the peninsula. The memorial will be located at the Old Baldwin Home site across the street from St. Philomena catholic church in Kalawao.

The EA is available for public review and comment at the NPS website, parkplanning.nps.gov/ as well as at the Molokai Public Library, Molokai Museum and Culture Center, and office of Historic Hawaii Foundation. You may also call Leslie Kanoa-Naeole at 567-6802 ex. 1101 for assistance. Comments may be submitted online or through the mail (Kalaupapa National Historical Park, P.O. 2222, Kalaupapa, HI 96742) until Feb. 10, 2011.
After that date, NPS will continue with a design.

“We hope to get this started as soon as possible,” Steve Prokop said, National Park Service Superintendent.

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