Hawaiian Airlines will be temporarily suspending ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger and cargo services effective Nov. 1 due to the low travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions.
Hawaiian, which reduced its workforce by nearly 2,500 employees this month when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Payroll Support Program (PSP) expired, will suspend its ‘Ohana by Hawaiian passenger flights between Honolulu (HNL) and Moloka‘i (MKK) and Lāna‘i (LNY), as well as cargo-only service within the Hawaiian Islands. Service between HNL and Kapalua (JHM) in West Maui was suspended in March.
“It is an honor to provide essential transportation for the people of Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and West Maui, and more recently all-cargo service within our state,” Peter Ingram, president and CEO at Hawaiian Airlines stated in a press release. “While we are disappointed at being unable to avoid the service suspension, this is a difficult situation for both Hawaiian and Empire Airlines as we navigate an incredibly challenging period, and we all remain committed to returning flights to communities that rely on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.”
Hawaiian sought to preserve important air service to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. However, low travel demand caused by the pandemic and the state of Hawai‘i’s quarantine restrictions triggered a labor provision in Hawaiian’s pilot contract affecting the carrier’s ability to provide ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service, the release stated. The provision, which is common in the US airline industry, prevents Hawaiian from offering ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights – which are operated with turboprop aircraft by Empire Airlines as a third-party feeder carrier – when interisland Boeing 717 and Airbus A321neo jet flights operated by Hawaiian’s pilots are severely reduced.
Hawaiian launched ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights with ATR-42 turboprop aircraft in the spring of 2014, followed by all-cargo service with ATR-72 aircraft in the summer of 2018.
While Hawaiian would be able to resume ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service with a significant recovery in interisland travel, that is unlikely to occur anytime soon. Separately, the Air Line Pilots Association has agreed to provide relief from the contractual provision if additional PSP funding is approved by the federal government and allows Hawaiian to bring furloughed employees back to its payroll.
Hawaiian is contacting guests affected by the service suspension to provide refunds. Cargo customers will be offered refunds or, depending on the shipment, the option to have their products transported between the islands with Hawaiian’s Boeing 717 and A321neo aircraft.