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Air option allows Hawaii's locals and visitors to island hop quickly

Mokulele Airlines offers alternative to ferries

When nursing students who attend a university on Molokai have to travel to Maui for training or athletes need to island hop during a statewide surfing competition or companies need to send personnel to facilities across the channel, they rely on Mokulele Airlines.

With a fleet of 11 Cessna® Grand Caravan EX™ turboprops, Mokulele provides scheduled inter-island flights to Oahu, Lanai, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii — the big island. The airline operates 120 flights a day, carrying nearly 27,000 passengers a month.

  • 11
    Cessna Grand Caravan turboprops
  • 120
    flights a day

For a short time, high-speed ferries bridged the gaps between islands, but they ceased operations when residents and environmentalists raised concerns about the impact on humpback whales, dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles. The airborne Caravans don’t pose the same risk, helping to preserve Hawaii’s marine life and natural beauty.

Mokulele, which means “island hopper” in Hawaiian, gives residents and businesses an easy, efficient and inexpensive way to travel around the archipelago. Sometimes, it’s the only way.

“We connect the small places on the islands where they don’t have jet service or any other type of service. We’re the only carrier at a number of these airports. There is a slow-speed ferry between Maui and Lanai as well as Maui and Molokai, but it’s a very rough stretch of water. People prefer not to use it,” said Ron Hansen, president and CEO of Mokulele Airlines.

Many passengers take the airline one way, choosing to book a seat back when they’re ready to return, according to Hansen. Others utilize the airline every day for commuting.

“People rely on Mokulele to go back and forth to see family or get to a hospital. We have about 900 corporate customers who travel with us — from businesses, government agencies, law enforcement groups, utility companies, et cetera. Many of them travel daily,” he said.

“We make it easy. Nine-passenger aircraft like our Cessna Caravans are not subject to (certain TSA regulations), which make it a lot easier to travel. You can arrive at the airport a few minutes before departure and expect to get on the flight. Parking is free at most of our terminals. There’s just a reasonable airfare. They can get over there, do their business and get back.”

“The Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbine engine is a very reliable engine, and the airplanes have been around for a good 25+ years. I feel safe letting my grandkids and kids fly in them.” Ron Hansen, president and CEO of Mokulele Airlines speaking about the Cessna Caravan®