Ohana Reduces Molokai Flights
Ohana by Hawaiian, an inter-island flight service of Hawaiian Airlines, will be reducing its flights to Molokai this month. Many residents say the changes will cause hardship for kupuna who need the wheelchair accessibility of Ohana’s larger aircraft not offered by the two other smaller airlines serving Molokai.
“I’m concerned about ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance, we don’t have the ferry,” said Rep. Lynn DeCoite of Molokai. “My concern is now, do we have to airlift guys out of there?”
In addition to wheelchair accessibility, the smaller aircraft operated by Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air have weight limitations of 350 pounds maximum per passenger, so some residents are limited to travel on Ohana’s larger aircraft.
As of Sept. 15, Ohana will removing the midday round trip flight between Molokai and Honolulu, leaving one early morning round trip flight and one late evening round trip scheduled to and from Honolulu. The airlines also no longer offers a direct flight between Molokai and Maui, but routes Molokai passengers to Maui via a stop in Honolulu.
According to Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex De Silva, the changes may be temporary.
“One of the three aircraft in our `Ohana by Hawaiian operation has a regular comprehensive maintenance check starting on Sept. 15,” he said as to the reason for the changes. “When the aircraft returns to service – currently scheduled for Dec. 15 – we will publish a new schedule of flights.”
DeCoite said she has been in discussions with the airline and the state to address the challenges caused for Molokai.
“Why have you not informed the people of Molokai?” DeCoite wondered of Ohana. “You need to justify this to the community of Molokai. [Hawaiian Airlines] needs to come to Molokai and explain it to the people of Molokai.”
DeCoite said the airlines has agreed to hold a community meeting on Molokai to talk story with residents, explain the changes and answer questions. The meeting will be held at the Mitchell Pauole Center on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at Mitchell Pauole Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
De Silva acknowledged the community’s concerns.
“We recognize the need for kupuna to travel to Honolulu, or Maui, for medical appointments,” he said, via email. “The new schedule retains two Molokai-Honolulu flights, and we are also providing a one-stop flight between Molokai and Maui, through Honolulu, at the same fare price of a non-stop flight.”
DeCoite said the morning flight to Honolulu is already often crowded and the removal of the midday flight would only make things worse. She pointed out that frequently, as flights fill up, the company raises the prices of its flights as high as $199 one way. She also mentioned a recent lack of consistency for the airline, with frequent flight delays being experienced. Ohana is operated by Empire Airlines, and she said the airlines needs to “get their act together.”
De Silva said the airline’s schedules are always subject to change.
“Our flight schedules do change, based on seasonality and demand as well as maintenance requirements,” he said. “We are hopeful that services like the special Molokai – Honolulu – Maui fare will address some of the community concerns.”
Those who would like to offer feedback on the airline’s service can do so by emailing HA.CorporateCommunications@hawaiianair.com.
Hawaiian Airlines began their Ohana by Hawaiian service to Molokai in March of 2014, operating three 48-passenger ATR-42 aircraft for the neighbor island routes.