Incentivizing Interisland Airline Competition

The Garden Island News has published an article about Kauai County Council asking state lawmakers to explore incentivizing interisland airline competition in the State of Hawaii. The Star Advertiser and KITV have also reported on this proposal, along with others.

I like the spirit of the “Unconquered Island” lawmakers, but lets just stop for a minute right here. The whole proposal has several problems.

First here are a few snippets.

Councilman Ross Kagawa, who introduced the resolution said, “We need to speak up already. Right now this is a serious problem.”

Ann Botticelli, SVP Corporate Communications and public affairs officer, speaking for Hawaiian, said the company keeps its fares low and that a one-way ticket price from Lihue to Honolulu for 12 months ending March 30 was $68 (or $82.70 with taxes).

Rep. Dee Morikawa, District 16 on Kauai, said “Maybe the resolution will spur the discussion”


Well I DO NOT think the government, local or federal can fix any problems, perceived or otherwise, with interisland air travel. They can’t force someone IN to business as easily as we have seen airlines forced OUT of business in recent years. New or existing airlines might not want to get tangled too tightly with State of Hawaii lawmakers.

These lawmakers could have just listened to me when I warned them about Mesa back in 2004 but that’s long forgotten history now. An ounce of prevention would have been worth a pound of resolutions and “spurring discussions” but it is now 2015 and both Aloha and Mesa are long gone from Hawaii’s skies.

Mesa left Hawaii’s economy a “scorched earth” (precisely as I predicted in 2004) and Hawaii has barely recovered now many years later. Hawaiian can and will charge whatever the market will bear. No other airline wants to enter the vortex of interisland passenger travel after so many other failed operations in recent history.

The people of Hawaii were played. How did anyone think $19 and $29 tickets would turn out? Just be thankful Mesa’s shame in Hawaii is unforgettable to this day. Hawaiian would eventually chose to use Empire instead of Mesa for their Ohana operation and Mesa would ultimately depart Hawaii for good. Empire is the same certificate holder that operated Mahalo for Robert Iwamoto back in the 1990s. Small world isn’t it?

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6 thoughts on “Incentivizing Interisland Airline Competition

  1. Shane

    Hahaha! When I started to read, I figured that I would leave a smart-ass comment about inviting a carrier like Mesa to come start service, but as I continued, I see that you already had your way with them…

    1. mikeuslan Post author

      Shane yes, i sense a bit of sarcasm in your comment but to be fair, sarcasm is probably the only honest way to respond to this story! Thanks for being the first to comment here!

  2. kyle gray

    I’m kind of puzzled why Kauai is asking for more inter-island travel?? Is it to bring more travel and tourism to the Garden Isle or is it for workers that are forced to commute to the outer islands to make money and find work elsewhere off the island? I was not one that was pro Superferry and I feel that Kauai didn’t want to be openly accessible just a few short years ago by shutting them down and should remain that way. I support Kauai being left ALONE!!! If one can’t make it on Kauai and has to look for work elsewhere so be it!!! Look what we have done and sacrificed as born and raised residents of HI in order to survive!! All of Hawaii is in great danger of being destroyed and lost forever. We can not keep selling out on the beauty that Hawaii has to offer just to thrive thru our current generation! What about the future?

  3. mikeuslan Post author

    Kyle, I agree & think most residents of Kauai would rather have most tourists go somewhere else. (Maui no ka oi!!) In 1986 I went camping with friends on the Na Pali coast and saw maybe 15 people the whole trip. Nowadays we can’t even find parking at Ha’ena and will assuredly see hundreds of people before even getting to Hanakapiai.

    My opinion is Kauai’s local residents don’t have room for any more tourists; so, It appears the lawmakers are trying to give incentive for an alternative airline to enter the fray against Hawaiian to benefit local residents.

    My opinion is that a proper competitor will not need any government subsidized inventive. The Hawaii State governments incentives would probably only tie down and anchor the new operation in one way or the other that would not benefit the local residents who need the service the most. This is politicizing at its finest and is wrought with hipocracy as the State of Hawaii shares in the blame of creating this problem in the first place.

    The State of Hawaii government had and blew their chance to get involved and assist saving the only ever successful and most competent competitor to Hawaiian Airlines (Aloha). The State instead welcomed unfair and illegal predators with red carpets and wouldn’t know how to fix this problem if it the instructions were tattooed across each other’s foreheads.

    If a prospective inter island competitor ever comes across this blog and reads these comments, that operator might consider my humble advice here which is this; to keep their mingling and associating with Hawaii State lawmakers to the bare minimum for satisfying entry only.

    1. kyle gray

      Hey Mike, Does the State of Hawaii pay HAL something like EAS?? I’ve never heard of it but just was wondering if it does happen nun the less. I know HAL gets subsidies from Samoa and some others I would asume.

      1. mikeuslan Post author

        No subsidies i’m aware of in Hawaii except for Kalaupapa which is done in a Makani Kai 208. There is a US mail contract for Pago Pago but it is held by Pacific Air Cargo. This is a little off topic but since you mentioned PPG, have you seen the Asia Pacific 757 parked down by the T-hangers? That was supposed to start doing the PPG run for PAC several months ago but I don’t think it’s going to fly. More trouble in paradise! You would think that for the coveted US Mail contract the parties involved would get their ducks all in a row before buying and painting a seemingly otherwise presentable passenger converted 757 freighter.


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