Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-letter: Oct. 15, 2007

A MAUI JUDGE has ruled that Hawaii Superferry should not be allowed to resume service until a full environmental assessment is completed, despite the company having received all required approvals for service by the state. That opens the door to damage claims by Hawaii Superferry against the State of Hawaii, although that option has yet to surface. Superferry officials cite a total of $300 million in construction and start-up costs, $140 million of which involved loans backed by a federal government guarantee. In a preamble to his ruling that acknowledged the divisiveness of the issue, Judge Joseph Cardoza claimed it was a matter of law that decided the case, citing the clear wording on environmental issues that made a full assessment necessary. The judge also invalidated the state's 22-year operating agreement with Hawaii Superferry, signed in Sept. 2005. Hawaii Superferry is expected to file an appeal in the state's Intermediate Court of Appeals.

MEANWHILE, STATE LAWMAKERS in Hawaii were working rapidly to craft legislation that would allow Hawaii Superferry to resume operations despite the recent court ruling. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and state Senate and House leaders met last week in an effort to build a consensus around a proposed bill crafted specifically to remedy the environmental entanglements that have kept the inter-island ferry from operating between Maui, Kauai and Oahu. The governor commented that once a consensus was reached on the legislation, a special session of Hawaii's legislature would convene to quickly vote on the measure. Separately, Hawaii Superferry said that it would layoff 249 of its 308 employees. The company estimated that it is loosing more than $600,000 each week the service remained idle.

ALASKA AIRLINES will begin year-round service between Anchorage and Honolulu on Dec. 9. The announcement follows Northwest's decision to pull out of that market, which it had served on a seasonal basis. The nonstop flights will be offered daily through April 26 and on Fridays and Saturdays between April 27 and Oct. 25.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES has been approved to operate nonstop flights between Honolulu and Manila, Philippines, making Hawaiian the only U.S. carrier to offer that nonstop service. Hawaiian will launch the Manila service in March 2008 using 264-passenger Boeing 767s.

PRINCE HOTELS & RESORTS has delayed the reopening of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel until late in 2008. The hotel closed this past July to restore portions of the hotel damaged by an October 2006 earthquake. A spokesperson for the hotel said that there are no plans to sell or tear down and rebuild the hotel. The remodeling of the resort's golf course remains on target for a September 2008 reopening.

Hawaii Editor: Allan Seiden

Phone: (808) 734-4677

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the Hawaii E-letter, contact Debbie Joseph at [email protected].

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