Hawaiian Airlines to suspend interisland turboprop flights

Empire Airlines operates the ‘Ohana by Hawaiian services, which will be dropped on Nov. 1.

Hawaiian Airlines will suspend ‘Ohana by Hawaiian interisland passenger and cargo services effective Nov. 1, citing the “economic challenges of low travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions.”

Hawaiian will drop passenger flights from Honolulu (HNL) to 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.

“Hawaiian sought to preserve important air service to Moloka‘i and Lāna‘I,” the airline said in a statement. “However, low travel demand caused by the pandemic and the state of Hawaii’s quarantine restrictions triggered a labor provision in Hawaiian’s pilot contract affecting the carrier’s ability to provide ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service. 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 CEO Peter Ingram added: “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 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 called the service cuts “temporary,” it conceded that ‘Ohana by Hawaiian service can only resume “with a significant recovery in interisland travel that is unlikely to occur anytime soon.”

Hawaiian said it is contacting passengers 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 717 and A321neo aircraft,” the airline stated.

Photo credit: Hawaiian Airlines