Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightAloha State visitors hoping to travel from Honolulu to Kahului, home of Maui’s largest airport, can now make the trip onboard new commercial service offered by interisland carrier Mokulele Airlines.

The company launched its Honolulu-Kahului route April 1, one day after Go Airlines ended service across Hawaii.

Mokulele has flown for quite some time into west Maui’s smaller Kapalua Airport, a short drive from many popular resorts lining Kaanapali Beach, and began flights to east Maui’s even smaller Hana Airport in 2012, but did not fly passengers to Kahului from Honolulu until earlier this month due to a codeshare agreement with Go. ShaneNelson

“We couldn’t fly each other’s routes,” said Dave Berry, Mokulele’s executive vice president and COO. “The Honolulu-Kahului route was one Go flew and therefore we didn’t. We also couldn’t fly to Hilo. That may be a flight we look at in the future, but right now we don’t have enough aircraft.”

Berry said Mokulele executives are talking with Cessna about adding three new nine-passenger Grand Caravan aircraft to its fleet later this year, but both companies are still working out the details.

“We had a pretty good relationship with Go,” Barry explained. “They put a lot of passengers on our planes, and I know we put a lot of passengers on their planes.”

But with their departure, he said, “we are looking at new opportunities, [and] we’ve started looking to try and fill that void with some of our capacity.”

Mokulele currently owns nine Cessna Grand Caravans, operating eight of them on more than 100 daily flights to Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island of Hawaii, with the ninth plane serving as a spare.

“They’re very fuel-efficient,” Berry said of Mokulele’s Cessna planes. “And that’s how we’re keeping airfares low on interisland flights.”

At press time, Mokulele was selling one-way tickets between Honolulu and Molokai on its website for $49 and one-way trips on its new Honolulu-Kahului segment for $79.

“We also go to a lot of places where the other airlines can’t go,” Berry added. “We’re the only ones flying into Waimea [on the Big Island]; we’re the only ones flying into Hana. And currently, we’re the only ones flying into Kapalua.”

Meanwhile, Berry said Mokulele is working with state officials about opening up the Kalaeloa Airport near Barbers Point on east Oahu, about 10 minutes by car from Ko Olina hotel properties like Aulani: a Disney Resort & Spa and the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa.

New Mokulele flights from Kalaeloa could potentially make interisland travel much easier for Ko Olina resort guests looking to visit a range of Hawaii destinations.

“We’re initially looking at eight roundtrip flights a day [from Kalaeloa], and then it may vary,” Berry said. “The flights likely would be to Kapalua, Kahului, Lanai City and Molokai, [but] we’re certainly not looking to take any flights away from our existing service at the Honolulu Airport.”
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