Two of Hawaii’s largest commuter airlines have announced that they’ve agreed to merge operations.
Makani Kai Air has been in operation since 1994; Mokulele Airlines since 1998. Until the advent of COVId-19, they were the only two interisland commuter airlines with regularly scheduled flights.
Richard Schuman is the founder of Makani Kai Airlines and he’ll join the team at Mokulele with the title of executive vice president. This new position will include overseeing all operations across the state.
Says Keith Sisson, chief marketing officer of Mississippi-based Southern Airways, which bought Mokulele Airlines last year, “There’s not an airline in the country that is making money right now. When you look at the situation with the interisland quarantine it’s been extremely difficult. We felt we were stronger together. The commuter airlines in Hawaii need stability so that the people of Hawaii have good options when it comes to air travel.”
Both airlines fly Cessna Grand Caravan turboprops that have seating for up to nine passengers.
“We know that in the age of COVID, people want to be on smaller aircraft, with less personal contact, and the ability to bypass crowded terminals and TSA lines. Truly, it is more important than ever to fly smaller, fly smarter, fly safer,” Schuman said in a statement.
Makani Kai Airlines has grounded all flights since early March but Mokuleme has been relatively busy during the pandemic. Although they cut their regular flights by more than half, they’ve also been providing transportation for essential workers, flown free medical supplies for hospitals and first responders, donated free shipping for almost 70,000 pounds of groceries to the residents of Molokai, and catered a hot meal for the residents at Kalaupapa, who’ve been on lockdown longer than any other Hawaiian residents. They’ve been averaging about 40 flights per week.
Their operations will begin combining on June 15, although it should take a couple of months to fully integrate the two airlines. Until then, Makani Kai’s flights will be sold exclusively through Mokulele’s website.
*** Feature Photo: Tavis Jacobs/flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary