New inter-island airline service starts
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 08:28:48 PM HST
A new airline service flies its first flight to the friendly isle.
The inaugural flight of Ohana by Hawaiian Airlines took off Tuesday morning for Molokai.
Ohana's new service began with something old: a traditional Hawaiian blessing and untying of the maile lei.
85 years ago, Hawaiian Airlines made Molokai its first destination when service started up, but those flights ended a decade ago.
"Since we suspended service 10 years ago, because the jets we had weren't the right size for that small airport, we have been working out how we can get back," said Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerly.
Unlike Hawaiian's other flights that use jets, Ohana uses twin turboprop planes decorated with an eye-catching kapa-inspired design.
"We put together a combination that really talks about where we come from, where we are going and what binds us together," said Hawaii designer Sig Zane.
The planes only seat 48 passengers and are better suited for the state's smaller airports.
At the Molokai airport, young and old gathered to greet the inaugural flight, to welcome passengers and the new service.
"We've waited a long time for Hawaiian airlines to return to Molokai, and we're thrilled," said Molokai resident Teri Waros.
She was just one of hundreds who came out for what they hope is the start of a long relationship.
"I hope Ohana stays for a while, because we need transportation here," said Molokai resident Weymouth Kamakana.
Mokulele Airlines currently serves Molokai, but Island Air will stop flights to the friendly isle next month.
Residents say they're all for more flights and more reliability.
"Delays, delays. Today, tomorrow, every day there are delays. Then when you need to get over to the doctor in Honolulu your time is used up already," said Molokai resident Jackie Stone.
Hawaiian Airlines says Ohana passengers will benefit by being a part of their same frequent flyer program.
Many Molokai residents hope the new service will also have Hawaiian's industry leading on-time record.
In addition to three daily flights between Molokai and Honolulu, Ohana will start daily service to Lanai next week. Hawaiian Airlines is also looking to expand to other small airports, like Kapalua.
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