Island Hoppers

More airlines are offering flights between the islands

By: Karla Aronson

Getting to the less-visited islands of Lanai and Molokai is becoming a little easier and cheaper. Visitors have always had the option of taking one of the ferries from Maui, a 45-minute or 90-minute excursion, respectively. They could also arrive by private plane charters from the other Hawaiian islands. But several airline providers are now offering more regularly scheduled and less expensive flights to these islands.

Island Air, which codeshares service with Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, flies its 37-seat Dehavilland Dash 8-100 series planes nonstop from both Honolulu (HNL) and Kahului, Maui (OGG), airports to Lanai City (LNY) and Hoolehua, Molokai (MKK), airports. The Honolulu-based airline will mark 20 years of service to these islands in 2008.

As many as eight to nine 30-minute flights, are scheduled daily from Honolulu to Lanai and back. The airline conveniently operates from the commuter terminal at Honolulu airport. Its single flight from Maui to Lanai, however, is currently offered on Mondays only, and takes 20 minutes. It departs one-way from the interisland terminal at Kahului.

Island Air’s daily service between Honolulu and Molokai operates as many as seven flights each way, and takes about 25 minutes. Two daily flights take off each way between Kahului, Maui, and Molokai, also 25 minutes each.

A daily flight from Molokai to Hilo, Hawaii (ITO), takes 85 minutes, and one weekly flight from Lanai to Hilo (80 minutes) stops in Kahului. The fares range from $32 to $100 one way. Travel agent commissions are determined by wholesaler contracts, but generally the airline does not offer agent commissions, according to Rita Aponte, special projects manager for Island Air.

“We fly between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, which offers a great view in the air,” Aponte noted of the scenic value. From those heights, the views include “frolicking whales during whale season,” she added.

At the beginning of 2007, Maui-based Pacific Wings Airlines launched a discounted flight service, PW Express, on its fleet of nine-passenger Cessna Caravan propjets.

PW Express currently makes one daily, roundtrip journey between Honolulu and Lanai. The 35-minute flight departs from the commuter terminal at Honolulu Airport.

Pacific Wings services Molokai with about 50 flights each day. Its 30-minute Honolulu-Molokai route operates 13 daily roundtrips. The Kahului-Molokai flights, also scheduled for a half-hour, operate four times daily, each way, departing from the Kahului airport commuter terminal. On Molokai, the airline is currently the only scheduled provider between its main airport, at Kaunakakai and Kalaupapa, the popular visitor destination and former leprosy settlement. The 10-minute flight can be added to the other Molokai routes from Honolulu and Maui.

“All of our Molokai flights afford stunning views of the 3,000-foot Molokai sea cliffs,” said Greg Kahlstorf, president of Pacific Wings. “Lanai-bound passengers get a panoramic view of Shipwreck Beach.”

Every seat on every flight offered by PW Express costs $29 one way, purchased on its Web site The airline flies to all Hawaii islands except Kauai.

Pacific Wings’ GDS bookings are commissionable. Since March, Kahlstorf said, the company has experienced a huge increase in daily volume with its direct-connect availability on Sabre over its Worldspan host service. Sales have also gained since its recent electronic- direct connection with Northwestern and Continental airlines.

A third flight service to Lanai and Molokai offered by go!Express is expected to begin around June 15, according to Joe Bock, chief marketing officer of go!

Go!Express began service between the Big Island, Maui and Oahu in March as a joint operation between Hawaii’s newest interisland airline entrant go! and the charter airline and air tour provider Mokulele Airlines.

The company will fly to and from Honolulu and Molokai and Lanai out of the commuter terminal at Honolulu airport on its fleet of nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft. Prices for the 30-40 minute flights are expected to range between $29 and $89 each way. The schedule of flights had not been announced as of presstime.

“Go!Express flights offer spectacular, panoramic views of the islands and the ocean during flight,” Bock said.

The airline does not currently offer travel agent commissions.

Owned by Mesa Air Group, go! launched discounted interisland service in Hawaii in June 2006 on its fleet of 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ 200 jet aircraft. Founded as an air tour provider on the Big Island in 1998, Mokulele Airlines expanded as an interisland charter airline, including routes to Molokai and Lanai.



Island Air

Pacific Wings Airlines