Travel to and from the Kalaupapa peninsula has become easier and cheaper for the Hansen’s disease patients along with the state and National Park Service workers.
Residents and workers celebrated the coming of Makani Kai Air Charters on Tuesday at Kalaupapa Airport in a dedication to the new air service.
Makani Kai Air Charters replaced Pacific Wings on Dec. 10 as the sole provider of scheduled flights to the remote peninsula on Molokai’s north shore. The new airline will accept a federal subsidy of almost $2 million over two years which allows the company to offer more affordable flights.
Pacific Wings had been charging round trip fares of around $500 to either topside Molokai or to Honolulu. Makani Air flights will cost $154.56 round trip to topside; for Kalaupapa residents the fare is half that, or $77.28.
“It means a renewed freedom for them to travel when they wish, have family visit to have patients reconnect with people that they love and make sure people that want to see Kalaupapa as a sacred place can visit,” said the state Department of Health Kalaupapa Administrator Mark Miller.
Since losing the contract, Pacific Wings has filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider awarding the route to Makani Kai.