Kamaka Air Temporarily Halted

A lifeline cargo carrier to Molokai temporarily and suddenly stopped service last week. On Wednesday, June 5, news began to circulate that Kamaka Air, Molokai’s predominant air cargo service, had stopped flying.

Concern spread quickly, especially amongst Molokai businesses.

Kim Svetin, President of Molokai Drugs, explained that the drug store relies on three to four shipments from Kamaka Air every week – especially for high value drugs that need to be refrigerated.

“I can’t manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on-island,” said Svetin.

State restrictions on shipping hazardous materials, like certain medicines and vaccines, means that medical providers like Molokai Drugs and Molokai General Hospital can’t use passenger airlines like Mokulele to ship medicine.

“It’s life or death,” explained Svetin. “Sometimes you can’t wait for Young Brothers…This is crisis level.”

It’s still unclear what caused the voluntary suspension in Kamaka’s service.

Senator Lynn DeCoite said that she was apprised of the situation early on June 5, according to reports from KHON2.

In an interview with KHON2, DeCoite explained that “it’s a very serious issue. As you know, we’ve already had our challenges with the other airline carrier for passengers and now to have a lack of transport of the basic things for people’s medical needs.”

The shutdown occurred just weeks after news of leadership changes at Kamaka Air were announced, including a new CEO and COO. In a news release from May, Kamaka Air explained that they were “ushering in a new era by appointing two former directors of Southwest Airlines to lead the company into its next phase of growth.”

The news release also highlighted plans for business expansion.

“With new leadership in place, Kamaka Air is poised to expand its presence and enhance its service offerings.”

By Thursday, service had largely resumed thanks to a partnership with Trans Air. While urgent supplies like medicine will be delivered by Trans Air, Kamaka Air is still sorting out the staffing shortage that reportedly led to the shutdown in the first place.

Kamaka Air did not respond to requests for comment on what caused the shut down.


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