Hawaii Superferry to resume Oahu-Maui service on Dec. 1

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Now that most of its legal troubles have been settled, Hawaii Superferry is getting ready to set sail once again beginning Dec. 1 with service between Oahu and Maui.

As part of the planned relaunch, Hawaii Superferry is offering a $29 one-way, "inaugural" fare valid through Dec. 20. (From Dec. 21 and through March 12, one-way passenger fares will increase to $39.)

The inaugural passenger vehicle fare will be $55 each way and $35 for motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, the company said.

Additionally, company said customers who previously purchased tickets at a higher fare for travel between Dec. 1 and March 12 will automatically be refunded the difference of the special fares.

The inaugural fares are available only on an advance-purchase basis and reservations must be made online through www.HawaiiSuperferry.com or by calling (877) 443-3779.

"We appreciate the support we've received from everyone who shares the vision of uniting our islands and families by sea," said Hawaii Superferry president and CEO, John Garibaldi in a statement. "Hawaii Superferry and its more than 300 employees look forward to a new beginning as we start our voyages between Oahu and Maui, a new choice for inter-island travel."

Before Hawaii Superferry temporarily suspended operations three months ago, it also offered service to Kauai. However, the company said it is still evaluating when to relaunch that service.

The inter-island ferry service, capable of carrying more than 800 passengers and 300 vehicles, launched on Aug. 29 -- about the same time the state's Supreme Court ruled that an environmental study would have to be conducted before it could begin operating.

The ruling spurred environmental groups, long critical of the service, to stage protests and file lawsuits against the ferry, which soon suspended operations.

On Oct. 9, Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza imposed an injunction against the ferry, mandating that it remain docked until after the state completed an environmental study.

The island's government, however, contended mandating such a study was unusual since it was not required of other modes of transportation.

As a result, Hawaii's legislature went into special session and passed legislation signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle that permits Hawaii Superferry to resume service while the environmental study is conducted by the state.

To address concerns raised by environmental groups, the law also compels Hawaii Superferry to adhere to certain operating conditions designed to minimize its impact on the environment, particularly the humpback whales that inhabit the waters around the islands.

On Nov. 15, Judge Cardoza lifted the injunction to allow Hawaii Superferry to resume service.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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