Passengers left scrambling after Island Air's shutdown

(Image: Kauai Youth Football)
(Image: Kauai Youth Football)
(Image: Kauai Youth Football)
(Image: Kauai Youth Football)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of passengers were left trying to figure out how to re-configure their travel plans after Island Air announced it would end service Friday.

Among those affected: A Kauai youth football program that was set to travel to Oahu next weekend.

"I don't want to let the kids down," said Brad Hiranaka, president of Kauai Youth Football, who is trying to coordinate travel for 154 players, coaches and staff.

"They worked so hard this season on fundraising and looking forward to go to Oahu to play another team."

Other passengers expressed similar frustrations — and wondered whether Island Air could have given them more notice.

Island Air, the state's second-largest carrier, announced Thursday afternoon that it was halting service Friday after "exhausting all options" in its bid to find a new stream of cash.

The state has pledged to offer job training and placement assistance for the airline's 423 employees.

The carrier's final flight — Island Air flight no. 449 — is scheduled to take off from Kahului on Friday at 10:14 p.m. and land in Honolulu at 10:49 p.m.

For refunds, the airline told passengers to contact their credit card companies. Those who paid with cash or check will have to file a claim with bankruptcy court (and there's no guarantee they'll get the money back).

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines has announced that it will honor Island Air tickets from Saturday through Nov. 17. Island Air passengers with confirmed reservations to or from Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue can standby for a coach seat on Hawaiian Airlines.

Island Air ticket holders should go to a Hawaiian customer service desk for assistance, and seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for flights on Hawaiian.

Hawaiian also said it will offer a special $71 one-way fare to Island Air passengers who require a confirmed travel itinerary. The fare is available to Island Air customers holding tickets for flights from Saturday to Nov. 17.

Hiranaka, the Kauai youth football coach, said he's holding seats on Hawaiian for his players as he awaits a refund on Island Air tickets.

He says Hawaiian's fares are $30 more per ticket.

After hearing about the shutdown Thursday, Hiranaka said he was "shocked."

"I didn't know what to do," he said.

Hiranaka said the players, who are in grades 4th through 7th, have been fundraising for the trip since September. Four football teams and cheerleaders were all set to make the trip and play four games in Waipahu. Total airfare costs for the group: $20,000. Plus another $20,000 for accommodations, transportation, and game tickets to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association football championship game at Aloha Stadium.

"It's just a stressful moment right now," he said. "It's very hard to deal with."

For more information on what Hawaiian Airlines is offering, click here.

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