×

State/In Brief

The Associated Press

Alaska-Hawaii summer nonstop flights suspended

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Airlines says its canceling nonstop flights between Anchorage and Honolulu during the summer months, primarily because of limited staffing.

The suspension will last from June until November. Alaska Airlines Public Affairs Manager Tim Thompson said no other major nonstop routes to and from Anchorage were affected, KTUU reported.

Alaska Airlines has struggled with staffing levels this month, as pilots protested and the airline said it encountered a backlog in its training program while it worked to bring on more pilots. The company had 63 fewer pilots ready to fly in April than it had planned on in January, it said.

Travelers between Alaska and Hawaii may have to use connecting flights in Seattle; Portland, Ore., or Los Angeles as alternatives.

An Alaska Airlines spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press that the airline has offered seasonal service on the Anchorage-Honolulu route in the past.

The airline also plans to resume nonstop service from Anchorage to Maui and Anchorage to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island in the fall. The airline doesn’t operate these routes during the summer.

*****

Antiviral pills to fight COVID available in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Hawaii doctors, like physicians elsewhere in the U.S., have been prescribing antiviral pills to COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of the disease. But only those at high risk of developing severe illness are eligible to receive the drugs.

Two brands of antiviral pills are available at pharmacies and health centers in the state with a doctor’s prescription, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. They are Paxlovid, which was developed by Pfizer, and Lagevrio, or molnupiravir, which was developed by Merck.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to both drugs. Both need to be prescribed and taken within a five-day window of the onset of symptoms.

Dr. Douglas Kwock, Hawaii Pacific Health’s vice president of medical affairs, said doctors have been prescribing the antiviral pills or therapeutics since January.

The pills are aimed at preventing severe infection, hospitalization and death, he said. They aren’t a cure for COVID-19 nor are they for anyone simply exposed to the coronavirus.

Patients must have high-risk conditions, like obesity or diabetes or be immunocompromised to be eligible.

“The treatment would involve a discussion with your primary care physician on whether you qualify or not, and even if you did, if it is something that would be beneficial,” Kwock said.

*****

Hawaiian teams with Musk company for in-flight internet

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines said Monday that it will offer free wireless internet service from SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network on flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, Asia and Oceania.

The airline said it is in the early stages of putting the service in place on some aircraft next year.

Honolulu-based Hawaiian said it’s the first deal between Elon Musk’s space company and a major airline, although charter operator JSX announced a deal with SpaceX last week.

Starlink is SpaceX’s network of satellites in low-Earth orbit, and the deals indicate SpaceX’s interest in gaining a foothold in the in-flight Wi-Fi market.

Hawaiian said the service will allow passengers to stream content or play online games with people on the ground without having to go through registration pages or payment portals. The airline did not indicate plans to offer the service on flights between islands in Hawaii.

Hawaiian flies between the islands and 16 mainland U.S. cities plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and American Samoa.

*****

Reservations required to visit Diamond Head

HONOLULU — Out-of-state visitors will soon need reservations to visit one of Hawaii’s most recognizable natural sites.

State land officials announced Monday the new policy for Diamond Head State Monument will take effect on May 12.

The iconic ancient volcanic crater stands at the end of Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.

Diamond Head is the third state park to have such a rule. Non-residents must also make reservations for Haena State Park on Kauai and Waianapanapa State Park on Maui. Reservations are required at certain times to visit Haleakala National Park on Maui.

Diamond Head can get thousands of visitors per day. The park attendance record was set in 2019 when about 6,000 people came to the site in one day.

State officials said the new rules are needed to control damage to the environment and infrastructure, congestion on hiking trails, heavy vehicle traffic and illegal parking.

“We want to reduce the impact of visitors and really ensure that our residents have access to these desirable places,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said during a visit to Diamond Head last week. “We can control the numbers of people who visit a particular place so they can more easily be spread out across the day.”

Hawaii residents do not need reservations to visit the monument, but parking is limited.