The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded Makani Kai Air a four-year, essential air service contract for Kalaupapa.
The DOT first selected Makani Kai for the service in November of 2011 and the new contract will mean service will continue uninterrupted.
The DOT’s EAS program subsidizes commuter airlines for routes servicing rural communities across the country.
Mokulele Airlines had also submitted proposals for the contract.
Makani Kai flies 12 weekly round trips between Honolulu and Kalaupapa and 18 weekly round trips between Kalaupapa and Molokai Airport in Hoolehua. For the route, Makani Kai Air Charters uses two Cessna Grand Caravans and a Piper Chieftain, as well as a backup airplane and a pilot on standby.
In 2011, the two-year period of subsidized service began at a rate of $932,772 the first year and $923,509 during the second year. Makani Air, a subsidiary of Schuman Aviation Company Ltd., uses nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan airplanes.
“The local people have spoken,” Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Air, said in a statement. “Our focus since day one has been on making air travel affordable for the people of Kalaupapa.”
Prior to Makani Kai Air, the isolated peninsula was served only by Pacific Wings, which operated without the benefit of a federal subsidy. After numerous complaints about the cost of flying on Pacific Wings, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made a pledge in March of 2011 to provide reasonably priced air service.