By Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Days after a Maui Circuit Court defeated the company that hoped to bring the islands a little closer, the Hawaii Superferry temporarily laid off the bulk of its workforce Thursday.
This temporary layoff -- or furlough -- affects 249 employees, or about 81 percent of the company's workforce. Many Superferry workers said this has been the toughest day of the entire legal ordeal.
"Aunty!" greeted one Superferry employee to another, following the announcement.
Hugs and tears at Honolulu Harbor, as Hawaii Superferry employees consoled each other after the furlough announcement.
"It's just disappointing," said Kanoa Taylor, a furloughed Superferry employee. "They have to cut costs or furlough and we can come back if they are successful."
After living on the mainland, Taylor moved back home to Hawaii to work for the Superferry. He has a place on Maui and Oahu. Now, he doesn't know what he'll do.
"This interruption of pay for me," said Taylor. "I can't sustain rent in two places. So, I have to give up my Honolulu rental."
Garibaldi made the announcement Thursday afternoon and said it was one of the toughest things he's had to do.
"Very, very difficult," he said, as he fought back tears.
He is hopeful Hawaii lawmakers can step in to save his stalled ship.
"With good fortune and the support of our community here," he said. "If we can get to the legislature and get support there, we'll be ready to start operations in a very short order after that."
Other former employees are also hopeful.
"I've been optimistic since the very start, and I still am," said Warren Asp, another furloughed Superferry employee. "I think it's a great thing for Hawaii."
But others say, they have to move on.
"I don't want it to be the end, but I don't know how to make it financially happen," said Taylor.
Collateral damage in the legal, political and environmental battle over the Alakai.
Garibaldi does not plan to pull out of Hawaii just yet, but said this was a necessary cost cutting measure until the ship resumes service.
Fifty-nine employees are still on the payroll. They perform operational duties, namely keep the ship running.