Less than a month after losing its federal contract to provide air service to Kalaupapa, Pacific Wings has filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider awarding the route to Makani Kai Air Charters.
In a report in The Maui News, Pacific Wings claims that the calculations used to establish a federal subsidy of almost $2 million were both wrong in their arithmetic and far above the allowable profit margin, which is 5 percent.
On Nov. 22, Hawaii U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had fulfilled his promise to provide improved air service for the people of Kalaupapa.
The federal Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy will allow the charter service to offer daily flights to Kalaupapa at highly reduced rates. Pacific Wings, the only carrier to offer scheduled flights to Kalaupapa since 2000, charges one-way rates of $244 to topside Molokai or $248 to Honolulu.
According to The Maui News story, Pacific Wings President Greg Kahlstorf said his fares were similar to those of other airlines on similar routes; the EAS subsidy law specifically disallows a subsidy for a route already served by a scheduled carrier; and there is no established way to rate whether fares are excessive.