State Senate Transportation Chair Comments on Judge's $80 Mill Award - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State Senate Transportation Chair Comments on Judge's $80 Mill Award

(Hawaii State Senate Press Release)

HONOLULU - Responding to today's ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris, which found that Mesa Air Group used confidential information to "gain a competitive advantage...to enter the market for Hawai'i interisland air transportation services," and ordered Mesa to pay Hawaiian Airlines $80 million in damages, Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, issued the following statement:

"While this may be good news for Hawaiian Airlines in their efforts to protect their proprietary information, it is more problematic for Hawai‘i's inter-island travelers. Over the past few years, we have been seeing artificially low prices for inter-island travel, fueled by fierce three-way competition. Even as consumers enjoyed the low prices and increased travel alternatives, the airlines operated at a consistent loss. We knew those conditions couldn't last.

"The departure from Hawai‘i of one of the three current inter-island carriers, whether through court action, revenue shortfalls or cutthroat competition, would likely mean a return to the former status quo of high prices and limited schedules, which would not be a positive development for Hawai‘i travelers.

"The best result for Hawai‘i travelers would be for all three airlines to participate in a truly competitive manner, where they find an equilibrium in prices and services that offers Hawai‘i residents affordable fares in a sustainable market. If today's ruling helps us keep our existing travel alternatives in play, it will be positive for our state. But if it leads to a reduction in the number of players, we could see negative results for travelers and our travel industry."

Senator J. Kalani English represents the 6th District (Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe).

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