Molokai Air Shuttle Was Hawaii's Oldest Regional
A dispute with the FAA over printing
and adhering to a regular, set schedule has forced the family-owned
and operated Molokai Air Shuttle to close its doors.
Shuttling passengers from Molokai between Ho`olehua, Kalaupapa
and Honolulu airports for more than 40 years, it is Hawaii's oldest
regional carrier. The airline flew its last flight Sunday.
A company spokesperson said the closure was the result of the
ongoing dispute with the FAA. It isn't the first time the agency
has come down on the airline on the issue.
The issue is the FAA's instruction to the company to print a
guaranteed schedule. The agency has relented in the past because of
Molokai's fluctuating needs. But, this time, the FAA stood fast and
threatened a series of $100,000 fines if the company did not
The company was founded by Hank Younge Jr, in 1967 and
christened Air Molokai. About 1992, the company became Molokai Air
Shuttle under Hank's son Henry Younge III. Younge complains that
being confined to a regular schedule would be disastrous simply
because business steady enough to guarantee their flights,
according to The Molokai Dispatch.
"This is the way we've done business for 40 years, and we think
it has served Molokai very well," says Younge. "The FAA has
litigated us six times in the past, and in all six cases of
conflict, the Shuttle has won every time due to Molokai's unique
situation. In 40 years of operation we had a perfect safety record.
The rules haven't changed, we haven't changed; so what's
The elder Younge has called on Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle
and other state leaders to acknowledge and defend the company's
importance both to the island's "human movement" and economics.
Younge said the company has been essential to residents of the
Kalaupapa peninsula as no other carrier provides the frequency of
flights they have to the remote area on the island's north shore,
which is now a national historic park, administered by the National
Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of
Transportation, told the Honolulu Advertiser the announced shutdown
also causes concern because Molokai Air Shuttle provided service
for the National Park Service and the state Department of
"It's sad. It's going to be
hard for the workers, because now they have to take the trail,"
says Gloria Marks, Father Damien Tours operator and Kalaupapa
resident. "It's hard on my business, too; now I'm only getting
visitors coming down on the mule rides (via the sea cliffs'
Kalaupapa trail). Hank provided a long time service to Molokai and
Kalaupapa, so it's really sad. Everyone used to love flying the
Other regional carriers hope to pick up a bit of the slack.
George's Aviation is an on-demand service that boasts a fleet of
both single engine Cessnas and dual-prop Pipers. Pacific Wings
flies single-engine Cessnas.
Young says all the company has asked for throughout 40 years of
regulation hearings are the same type of exemptions similar
carriers in Alaska enjoy. The previous six hearings have resulted
in positive outcomes for the Shuttle, but this time state
politicians chose not to fight for the exemptions.
"We sincerely thank Molokai for years of loyal business and
apologize for stopping," said the elder Younge. "But the company
could never survive the fines it would have faced."