Mokulele Airlines halts service from Kalaeloa Airport

Hawaii News Now - September 27, 2016
By: 
Rick Daysog

Mokulele Airlines said it grounded its Kalaeloa service earlier this month after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years.

It's a major inconvenience for people on the Leeward side who will now have to travel to Honolulu International Airport to catch an interisland flight.

It's also a setback for the state which has struggled for more than a decade to turn the former military air base into a commercial airport.

"It never worked out. It was steady losses the whole time. It never made a profit once, not one month," Mokulele CEO Ron Hansen said of the company's Kalaeloa flights.

"We tried everything we could to make it work."

The local carrier operated six daily flights out of the Leeward Oahu airport. Mokulele still flies 15 daily interisland flights from Honolulu International Airport.

Mokulele said it will continue to run chartered flights out of Kalaeloa.

The move leaves Kalaeloa Airport without regular interisland passenger service. And some consumers say they're disappointed.

"It's really a bummer. I had my community meeting this last weekend. I mentioned it there and people ... just gave a sigh," said state Sen. Mike Gabbard, (D) Kapolei.

"It was so convenient where you could just drive up and park your car and literally get on a plane and fly to the neighbor islands ... and not having to deal with the hassle of TSA. So yeah, big disappointment."

Mokelele's CEO said the plan didn't fly because the airport was so hard to find.

"There's still a lot of people out there that live in the Kapolei area who don't know the airport exists," Hansen said.

"The Google maps didn't have it correct, so there were people that missed their flights in the beginning."

Gabbard said that with the building boom on the west side, commercial flights will eventually return to Kalaeloa.

"It's just a matter of time as Hoopili comes on board, as other housing projects come on board," he said.

Added aviation historian Peter Forman: "The Kalaeloa destination is a good idea. I think you're going to see somebody try that again at some point."

But that could still be several years away.

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