- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - ‘Ohana by Hawaiian has begun operating a temporary flight schedule for Molokai, which will eliminate the direct flight between the Friendly Isle and Maui as well as a midday round trip between Molokai and Oahu.

The airline says the change is necessary as an aircraft undergoes maintenance.

There is another plane that could service the route, but Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson Alex Da Silva said that aircraft is used as a spare “to maintain the reliability of our service,” The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/2vYSZnV ).

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The schedule is expected to be in place until Dec. 15. The airline will continue to offer two daily Molokai-Honolulu round-trip flights.

“We want to reassure our Molokai residents that ‘Ohana by Hawaiian is committed to serving the needs of the community for the long term, and we sincerely appreciate their patience and understanding,” the airline said Thursday.

State Rep. Lynn DeCoite said she will hold the airline to the announced 90 days and hope it doesn’t extend the temporary schedule.

DeCoite, whose district includes Molokai, pointed out airline officials did not realize ‘Ohana is the only airline serving Molokai Airport that has a ramp to accommodate wheelchairs and passengers weighing more than 300 pounds. People depend on them for these services, she said. Mokulele and Makani Kai also serve Molokai Airport.

DeCoite noted, with the temporary schedule eliminating the midday round-trip flight between Molokai and Honolulu, people may be scrambling to book other flights.

She said Molokai residents do a lot of their Mainland travel between October and December, and eliminating the midday flight to Honolulu will crowd other flights.

Maui County Council Member Stacy Crivello, who holds the Molokai residency seat, said Molokai has taken a lot of hits in the past years, including losing its ferry and the shutdown of Molokai Ranch. And now the airline that provides the most accommodations for residents will have fewer flights, Crivello said.

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