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State waives Molokai and Lanai landing fees

Move would save Mokulele about $19 per flight

The Maui News

The state Department of Transportation is waiving landing fees for scheduled commercial passenger service to Molokai and Lanai for one year, in response to the decrease in travel and financial losses that airlines have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each plane landing costs the airline a fee, and the waiver, which begins March 1, would save Mokulele Airlines about $18.95 per touchdown, according to the company.

“It is not a large savings, but after months of losses incurred due to the interisland travel restrictions, any help is greatly appreciated,” Mokulele spokesperson Keith Sisson said Monday.

Mokulele is now the only airline servicing Molokai and Lanai after Hawaiian Airlines suspended ‘Ohana by Hawaiian flights in mid-January.

Mokulele has been able to fly all its usual routes, and the airline has not needed to implement layoffs, Sisson said. According to its website, Mokulele offers more than 120 flights a day statewide.

The airline has been using the revenue generated by operations on the Mainland to mitigate the monthly losses in Hawaii.

“We are hopeful that the interisland travel restrictions will lift soon so that we can get the airline back to the sustainable levels that existed prior to the pandemic,” he said. “This move by the state leaders who recognize that air travel to Lanai and Molokai is an essential public health need provides a nice step in returning the airline to viability.”

Gov. David Ige said in a news release Monday that “we’re making sure we do all we can on the state side to help” with transportation hardships that many residents on Molokai and Lanai face when it comes to travel and accessing health care.

Airlines interested in participating in the waiver of landing fees should contact dot.air.administrator@hawaii.gov for more information.

“We appreciate any assistance Maui County residents can receive to travel during these difficult times,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said in a news release. “Molokai and Lanai residents have greater challenges in getting passenger service to and from their islands, so this waiver of landing fees should help make these flights more economical for air carriers.”

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