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Shipping firm suspends planned changes to rules

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii ocean shipping company is making adjustments to rules regulating its cargo service as it continues to seek federal coronavirus relief through the state.

Young Brothers LLC had planned to scale back its service by suspending mixed cargo shipping and loads that are less than a full container. But the company suspended the decision after hearing from customers and the community, company President Jay Ana said.

Ana told the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that it continues to evaluate its services as part of a May 26 request for $25 million in coronavirus relief, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

The commission is investigating the financial condition of the 120-year-old company, which said the funds are needed to stay afloat during the economic collapse caused by the pandemic.

The company previously announced plans to continue operations under a reduced schedule and move the barge arrival day in Hilo on the Big Island from Thursday to Monday, which was also driven by customer requests, Ana said.

Young Brothers cited a 30 percent drop in cargo volumes and losses expected to reach $25 million by the end of the year.

The losses are anticipated despite cost-cutting measures, including $6 million from reduced sailings to Maui and Hilo and $1 million from workforce reductions, hiring freezes and salary cuts.

The Honolulu company is considered valuable to local economies, especially on smaller islands such as Molokai and Lanai that depend on its tug-and-barge service.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.