Mokulele Airlines working to address flight disruptions

Company leaders blamed recent delays and cancelations on bad weather and mechanical issues.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 10:44 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mokulele is asking for another chance. The only passenger airline serving Molokai has been leaving customers stranded lately.

More than 150 people attended Mokulele’s online meeting Monday night.

Company leaders blamed recent delays and cancelations on bad weather and mechanical issues.

Passengers like asked for better communication.

In the meeting, leaders of Southern Airways, the parent company of Mokulele Airlines, told frustrated medical workers like Boki Chung to call them when they need help with delays or cancellations.

“I appreciate all of the doctors that provide medical services for Molokai and Lanai,” said Southern Airways’ Chief Marketing Officer, Keith Sisson. “A lot of them have my personal cell phone number, and they reach out to me whenever there’s an issue.”

“I’m a medical provider, and I have a colleague who is a medical provider that provides care for Molokai, and we’ve run into situations where we have to change our flight or missed appointments with patients because of the delays,” said Chung. “So what does this accomplish by calling you?”

Chung still doubts that she’ll make it to her surgeries in time.

“But it sounds to me that internally that sounds like a long pathway to get a flight for us,” said Chung.

Molokai Resident Makalani Lee said she has tried seeking help from Southern Airways’ Vice President, Richard Schuman. But by the time she heard back, she had found another way to get to O’ahu for her son’s medical services.

“We couldn’t find a flight for like a week, so we ended up having to catch a boat out to Maui and fly over to Honolulu,” said Lee.

“I want to get you through the rough patch right now, and I think it’s going to be so normalized in the next couple of days,” said Sisson. “That the issues that you would need to reach out to us on are going to be so minimal that you’re not going to have to.”

Mokulele’s leaders announced today that they would improve services by adding three more nine-seater aircraft and a larger one for summer travel.

To improve communication, they’re launching a mobile app next week.

Customers will be able to check and change flights without having to call customer service.

But Sisson changes are all handled on a case-by-case basis.

“Every circumstance is a little bit different,” said Sisson. “It depends on the day of the week and the time of the day [and] how many passengers may have flexible travel plans.”

Senator Lynn Decoite said she’s pushing for subsidized flights for Molokai and possibly Lanai.

And she said the state is working to get new helicopters for air ambulance services.

“Three of them because we are short on-air ambulance,” said DeCoite. “Also, Mokulele has been helping us right now, Molokai and Lanai, with medical services. We cannot keep depending on them to do it.”