Hawaii Superferry to remain in drydock through April 22

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The Hawaii Superferry is getting nowhere fast, as it extended its annual drydock for a second time.

The company took its interisland ferry, the Alakai, out of service Feb. 13, moving up the ship's scheduled drydock after experiencing rolling cancellations of service throughout January, which it attributed to high seas. The ferry originally was to return to service March 3, but that was extended to March 25. The drydock now has been extended to April 22.

The company said it needs more time to repair damage incurred during the drydocking proces, but in a letter dated Dec. 17, 2007, requesting approval from the Public Utilities Commission to speed up the company's implementation of a second daily trip between Oahu and Maui, Superferry attorney Audrey Ng wrote that "if the second voyage per day cannot be implemented imminently, then [Hawaii Superferry] will continue to carry substantial losses. ... With just one trip per day, the fixed expenses represent nearly 56% of a voyage's cost."

Approval was granted but on Jan. 14, just two days before the first afternoon trip between Oahu and Maui was to start, the company put the service on hold until "later this spring." Hawaii Superferry said it was bowing to opposition from Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

The company had hoped the second trip would compensate for an earlier blow to its business model. In August, protesters on Kauai took to the water to block the ferry from landing on that island. Hawaii Superferry has postponed its service to Kauai indefinitely.

John Garibaldi, president and CEO of Hawaii Superferry, could not be reached immediately for comment, but in an earlier statement, Garibaldi had noted that the company's business model depends on running two trips per day.

To contact reporter Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].

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