Lana’i and Moloka’i – this one is for you!
Since 2021, Mokulele has been the sole provider of scheduled air service to both islands after Hawaiian’s Ohana division was shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ohana offered inter-island flights on 46 seat ATR-42 aircraft, which complimented our services at Mokulele for years. We never expected to be “the last guy standing”, but we took the responsibility seriously.
The leadership team at Southern Airways Express, owners of Mokulele, went to work. Some of our executives came from larger regional airlines with experience in turboprops, and their familiarity with the choices led us to acquire two Saab 340B Plus aircraft. The Saab 340 is a twin engine turboprop, with seating up to 34 (we are limited to just 30), with plenty of room in cargo for super large & bulky items (including wheelchairs). The pressurized cabin offers air conditioning and overhead bins, as well as a flight attendant, galley, and lavatory.
We also feel that the 30 seat airplane is a solid choice for the marketplace, as we won’t be putting excess seats (example: Island Air was flying 70 seat ATR-72s, which was just too big for Molokai at times; and Mokulele previously operated the 72 seat Embraer 170 jets inter-island).
The planes will be operating this summer, with 2 flights a day to Lana’i and Moloka’i from Honolulu as Southern Airways Express under a Public Charter authority. This means all funds are placed into a special bank account until the flight operates, as the flight operates as a ‘shared charter’. This is the same premise as JetsuiteX and Contour Airlines on the mainland operate. It basicly means we can’t spend the money you paid today for your flight, when you aren’t flying until September.
Flights will be displayed differently in our booking engine, so travelers will be able to see when the larger plane is operating.
We will continue to use our 9 seat Cessna Grand Caravans as our workhorse in the island, but with the added plane – kama’aina should start to see more lower fares in the marketplace as more of the cheaper seats will be available to purchase.