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Delta Announces New Daily Nonstop Flights Between Seattle and Kauai

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement regarding the announcement that Delta Air Lines will be launching daily nonstop flights between Seattle and Kauai beginning this December.

“Delta’s expansion of service to Kauai from its Pacific Northwest hub speaks to the confidence the airline has in the Garden Isle to drive demand from travelers in the greater Seattle area and nationally.

“Reliable air access extending throughout the Hawaiian Islands is instrumental to our tourism industry’s continued viability to support businesses and residents statewide. Delta’s new Seattle-Lihue service strengthens Hawaii’s ties to one of our major gateway cities, and will make it easier for travelers anywhere in the mainland U.S. to make daily flight connections to Kauai.

“It’s gratifying that Delta has factored Kauai into its nationwide expansion plans considering the options available to the airline. HTA meets with Delta’s route planners on a regular basis, which included the Airline Summit we hosted last September at the Hawaii Tourism Conference. As HTA does with all carriers, we provided information on the advantages of increasing flights to Hawaii, especially to the neighbor islands.

“Kauai’s economy will benefit significantly from this new service. Delta’s Seattle-Lihue flights on Boeing 757 aircraft will add 63,510 air seats annually to Kauai, generating an estimated $77.9 million in direct visitor spending for the island, and $9.1 million in tax revenue for the State.”
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November Lava Breakout Remains Active and Kamokuna Ocean Entry Continues

The November 21 breakout from the episode 61g lava flow remains active.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the upper left of the photo.

The tip is 2.4 km (1.5 mi) straight-line from the vent, and the furthest active lava is roughly 600 m (660 yd) back from the tip. The breakout, extending to the lower right of the image, can be identified by its light silver color.

The Kamokuna ocean entry remains active. On December 31, approximately 21 acres of delta collapsed into the ocean. The remaining ~2.5 acres can be seen at the base of the sea cliff in long narrow sections. On the lower right of the photo, a scarp is visible where a portion of the old sea cliff collapsed.

Degassing from the 61g lava tube is visible from the ocean entry to the upper right of the photo, and Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the top middle of the photo.

A close up view of where approximately 4 acres of old sea cliff fell into the ocean during the delta collapse on December 31.

The far eastern end of this collapse (right), is where the old public viewing area was located prior to the collapse.

On the left is a normal photograph of the ocean entry, which produces a robust steam plume and an area of discolored water extending out from the entry point.

The thermal image on the right shows how this area of discolored water corresponds to scalding water temperatures.

Another view of the ocean entry, with the plume of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point.

Hawaiian Airlines to Begin Nonstop Service Between Kauai and Hawaii Island

Tickets as low as $89* one way now available for flights starting March 12

Hawaiian Airlines, Hawai‘i’s flagship carrier, today announced it will launch once daily non-stop service between Kaua‘i’s Līhu’e Airport (LIH) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawai‘i Island beginning Sunday, March 12. This is the first time in the airline’s history that it will connect Līhu‘e and Kona with a direct flight.

“Demand from our kama‘āina and visitors for travel between Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i has been growing steadily over the past few years,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are proud to now offer our guests direct access between these islands, in addition to our connecting flights through Honolulu or Maui. This gives travelers greater flexibility and convenience when traveling through the Hawaiian Islands.”

The 263-mile flight becomes Hawaiian’s longest Neighbor Island route, besting its flights between Hilo, Hawai‘i Island (ITO) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on O‘ahu by nearly 60 miles.

LĪHU’E (LIH)/KONA (KOA) SCHEDULE
*beginning March 12, 2017

Flight Route Departs Arrives  Frequency
HA 599 KOA – LIH 9:38 a.m. 10:36 a.m. Daily
HA 500 LIH – KOA 3:44 p.m. 4:44 p.m. Daily

Hawaiian first launched flights to Kona from Honolulu on July 10, 1949 and started service from Honolulu to Līhu‘e six months later on Jan. 8, 1950. Today, the state’s largest and longest serving carrier operates an average of 21 daily departures from each airport with its Boeing 717 fleet, including:

  • LIH – HNL: 17 flights
  • LIH – Kahului Airport (OGG): four flights
  • KOA – HNL: 16 flights
  • KOA – OGG: five flights*
    *two flights operated by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s ATR42 aircraft

During the busy summer months, Hawaiian also offers direct flights from both Kona and Līhu‘e to Los Angeles and from Līhu‘e to Oakland, California.  In December 2016, Hawaiian started its first-ever international service from Kona with thrice-weekly flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

*Tickets between Līhu‘e and Kona, starting as low as $89 one way including taxes and fees, are now available for purchase online at HawaiianAirlines.com.  Fare is available for non-stop, one-way flights between Līhu‘e, HI and Kona, HI. Tickets must be booked by 1/19/17 for travel between 3/12/17 – 5/24/17 and are only valid in the Economy (coach) cabin.  Fares are subject to seat availability during the travel period shown. Other restrictions apply. Additional baggage charges may apply. See HawaiianAirlines.com for terms and conditions.

Island Air Blesses New Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

Island Air held a blessing and naming ceremony today for the first of three new Q400 turboprop airplanes it is acquiring as part of a long-term plan to upgrade its fleet and expand the company’s presence in the interisland market. Island Air owners, managers and employees, along with elected officials, visitor industry partners and other special guests gathered at the Island Air hangar off Lagoon Drive to bless and dedicate the new aircraft prior to its inaugural interisland flight tomorrow morning.

“The launch of our first new Q400 aircraft is a significant milestone not just for the Island Air team, but also for residents and visitors who travel between the Hawaiian Islands to visit family, conduct business and to enjoy our special island lifestyle,” said David Uchiyama,‎ president and chief executive officer, Island Air. “After extensive evaluation, review and comparison studies of different aircraft, as well as input from our pilots and operations crew, we reached the conclusion that the Q400 is the right aircraft that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers and provide them with the best interisland travel experience.”

Island Air’s new fleet of aircraft will bear names that recognize seven core values developed by the airline’s team members and are integrated into the company’s mission and corporate philosophy. The first Q400 aircraft is named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do.” The names of future planes will focus on other core values including genuineness, doing the right thing, accountability, striving for the highest summit, trust and persistence.

“Like so many Island residents, our team members have been raised on key values that guide their everyday lives, including strong work ethics and commitment to one another and the local community,” said Uchiyama. “In brainstorming names for the new aircraft, the Island Air ‘ohana wanted to reflect the values we strive to uphold, while reminding us that each time a plane arrives and departs, we must always share aloha with our valued customers and never lose sight of what it means to Fly the Island Way.”

With the addition of the new aircraft, which will be put into service on Jan. 12, Island Air will increase the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kahului from six to seven, and the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kona from five to six. The new flight schedule also will see slight time changes in the six daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Līhu‘e. The new flight schedule is available on Island Air’s website at www.islandair.com/flight-schedules.

Island Air plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400 aircraft and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service. The Q400 turboprops are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited. The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive later this week, and the third is expected to be delivered in April.

The Q400 has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet. The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advanced noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai‘i market. In addition, its noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which will be less disruptive to the community as it flies overhead.

Hawaiian Airlines Carries Record 11 Million Passengers in 2016

Hawaiian Airlines welcomed a record 11,050,911 guests in 2016, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year. Hawai’i’s largest and longest-serving airline today announced its system-wide traffic statistics for the month, quarter and full year ending December 2016.

The record passenger count in 2016 marks 12 straight years of growth as the airline continues to expand its network and fleet, providing travelers with more options to fly to and within the Hawaiian Islands than any other carrier.

In July Hawaiian launched daily non-stop service between Narita and Honolulu international airports, and last month it inaugurated triweekly service between Haneda and Kona international airports. This past summer Hawaiian added one A330-200 aircraft (bringing the company’s A330 fleet to 23), and took delivery of two Boeing B717-200s in November and December for a total of 20 of the aircraft type. The company also operates eight Boeing 767s on transpacific routes and three turboprop ATR-42 through its interisland subsidiary, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian.

The carrier has recently unveiled several product investments to enhance the flight experience, including the debut of a new Premium Cabin featuring lie-flat seating and luxury amenities, additional Extra Comfort seating, and a first-class auction upgrade service called Bid Up.

The Company expects to recognize a $5 million non-cash loss in non-operating expense from the translation of its foreign currency denominated bank accounts.

In December, the Company announced its intention to early retire its fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft by the end of 2018 resulting in a non-cash impairment charge of approximately $45 – $50 million.  In addition, the Company completed an agreement with a third-party maintenance vendor for its Boeing 767 aircraft and expects to record an additional financial charge of approximately $21 million.

Hawaiian Airlines Named Most Punctual Airline in the World

Hawaiian Airlines has been named the world’s most punctual airline in 2016 according to results released by air travel intelligence company OAG in its annual ranking of on-time performance (OTP) for all airlines and airports. The OAG Punctuality League, covering 200 airlines from every corner of the globe, revealed that 89.9 percent of Hawaiian’s flights arrived on time in 2016.

“This accomplishment was won through the hard work and dedication of our more than 6,000 employees,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Together they have made Hawaiian an industry leader not only in punctuality but also in the quality of service they deliver every day to our guests.”

Hawai‘i’s largest and longest-serving airline provides daily non-stop service to Hawai‘i from 11 gateway cities in North America – more cities than any other carrier – using Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 767-300 aircraft, along with service from Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti. Hawaiian Airlines also operates approximately 160 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands using Boeing 717-200 aircraft.

The OAG Punctuality League is derived from the most comprehensive airline schedules database in the world and is the most transparent global benchmark for the world’s airlines and airports.

The report is available online http://www.oag.com/punctuality-league-2016.

Housekeeper Leaves Note Warning Tourist About Dangers of Taking Lava Rock Home

A Colorado resident that was staying in a room at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club here in Hawaii was stunned when they returned to their room and found this note left from one of the housekeepers:
Mr & Mrs. ********

Thanks for staying at HGVC (Hilton Grand Vacation Club). 
Just to let you know please don’t attempt to bring home some stones or rocks & sand from HAWAII.

According to what they say that Madam Pele Goddess won’t allow anyone to take it home from the Hawaiian Islands.  It is not safe.  You might get sick or something. 

Your Housekeeper ********** 

Happy New Years

A neighbor of the person that received the note told me, “They had little bags of sand in their room from the beaches they’d gone to.

New Coastal Lava Viewing Area Opens in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Park rangers opened a newly established lava viewing area at the Kamokuna ocean entry in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park today, following a two-day closure caused by a large lava delta collapse on New Year’s Eve.

New lava cascade at Kamokuna in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Monday, January 2. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

The new viewing area is approximately 900 feet east of a cascade of lava pouring into the ocean, and about 60 feet inland of the coastal cliffs. Rangers, in conjunction with USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists, thoroughly assessed the area, and established the new viewing site with white rope lines and numerous signs that clearly mark hazardous closed areas.

Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs and park rangers.

Visitors who do not heed warnings not only endanger themselves but the lives of others, including our park rangers, who work tirelessly to ensure a safe visitor experience,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Visitors begin the five-mile hike to Kamokuna shortly after the park opened the lava viewing area on Tuesday, January 3. Today marks the 34th anniversary of the eruption of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea, the source of the lava flows going into the ocean today. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

After the delta collapse on New Year’s Eve, a group of five visitors ignored rangers and warning signs and slipped beneath the white rope lines into a closed area at the coast. Two park rangers had to chase after them, and made them turn around – 15 minutes before the area they were standing on collapsed into the ocean.

In addition to the threat of another land collapse, the toxic plume of volcanic particles and acidic gas generated by lava mixed with ocean water is very dangerous, and irritates the lungs, skin and eyes. Land collapses, which trigger tsunami-like waves, and the toxic gas plume, are also a serious threat to aircraft and boats. There is currently a 1,000-foot above-ground-level temporary flight restriction at Kamokuna.

HVO scientists estimate that nearly all of the 26-acre lava delta is now gone, along with more than four acres of older coastal cliff area, which included the former lava viewing site. The collapse on New Year’s Eve started in the afternoon and lasted several hours, creating blasts of volcanic rock and a series of damaging waves, in addition to a thick, dark plume of debris and gas.

It is closer from the east entrance to reach the new lava viewing area within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. From the east, or Kalapana/County of Hawai‘i side, visitors must hike about 4.2 miles one way along the gravel emergency access road. This entrance is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. From the park, or west side, visitors can hike out from the Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road, about five miles one-way. About one mile of the hike goes inland of the gas plume over hardened, uneven lava flows. The park entrance is open 24 hours a day.

Hikers need to be prepared for a long trek. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions.  Carry plenty of water (three to four quart/liters per person). Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Visitors who plan to stay after dark need a flashlight and/or headlight with extra batteries.

For hiking tips, visit the park website https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/Hiking-Tips.pdf. For County of Hawai‘i Lava Viewing information, call (808) 430-1966. For the latest eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php. Monitor air quality at http://www.hawaiiso2network.com/.

New Year’s Eve Delta Collapse Causes Temporary Closure at Kamokuna Ocean Entry

A large section of the 26-acre lava delta formed by the 61g lava flow collapsed into the ocean around 2:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, launching showers of volcanic rock into the air, and creating a flurry of large waves that eroded away a portion of the older sea cliff and viewing area.

As a result, the Kamokuna ocean entry within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will remain closed today as park rangers and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists survey the area. Rangers on duty New Year’s Day reported that the former viewing area is gone, and that loud cracks continue to be heard throughout the unstable area.

Although park rangers temporarily closed the Kamokuna lava viewing area last night, five visitors ducked beneath the white rope closure line and made a beeline for the coastal cliffs around 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Eruption Crew Ranger Travis Delimont and a co-worker had to chase after them before they turned around.  Within 15 minutes, the section of cliff where the visitors were standing crashed into the ocean.

“It was a really close brush with death for them,” Ranger Delimont said. “Luckily, they finally listened to us and turned around in time,” he said.

The lava viewing area will remain closed until it is determined safe to reopen. The County of Hawai‘i also closed the Kalapana access to the park.

“Fortunately, there were no aircraft or boats reported in the area at the time of the collapse, nor were any visitors on the delta itself, which is closed for public safety,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Had anyone been close by on land, water or air, lives would have surely been lost,” she said.

There is a temporary flight restriction of 1,000 feet above ground level at the Kamokuna ocean entry.

Lava deltas are extremely hazardous volcanic features and are formed when lava enters the ocean and builds new land on loose and unstable substrate. In addition to the threat of collapse, lava entering the ocean produces a highly a corrosive plume of hydrochloric acid and volcanic particles that irritate the lungs, skin and eyes. Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs.

Hawaiian Airlines Leasing Plane From China – Phasing Out B767-300s

Hawaiian Airlines will dry-lease an A321neo from China with delivery scheduled for 2018.

As previously reported, Hawaiian plans to phase out its fleet of eight B767-300s by the end of 2018. To expedite the process, it has ordered one A330-200 from Airbus Industrie, and will lease one more A321neo in addition to this one.

Hawaiian plans to phase in sixteen A321neos by end of 2020, plus the two leased aircraft, which will free up some its fleet of twenty-three A330-200s for more flights to Asia. It also has eighteen B717-200s which it uses for flights between the islands of Hawaii.

Holiday Visitation Surges at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Park visitation surges during the holiday travel season and this week is no exception with parking lots at popular destinations like Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Jaggar Museum and Kīlauea Visitor Center at capacity.

NPS Photo

And, with Kīlauea erupting from two locations, the park remains a powerful draw for visitors who want to see volcanic activity. As a result, the park is very crowded, especially during peak hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“We’ve had some visitors wait up to an hour to park, and we have park rangers working in traffic control. We remind everyone to please be patient and treat rangers and other drivers with respect and aloha,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Park rangers offer these tips so all visitors have a positive and memorable time in the national park:

  • Plan to arrive early and explore Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) before 9 a.m. Not only is parking available, but the lava tube is often empty of people. Birdwatching at Nāhuku is best in the early morning.
  • Want to hike Kīlauea Iki Trail? This four-mile trek is one of the most scenic and popular trails in the park. Plan to hit the trail by 7 a.m., and be out by 10 a.m.
  • Drive and explore Chain of Craters Road. This historic and scenic road originates at the summit of Kīlauea and stretches 19 miles to Hōlei Sea Arch. Many overlooks, pullouts, and lesser-known hikes (Mauna Ulu, Pu‘uloa Petroglyphs) abound – and it’s an ideal way to avoid the crowds and see more of what the park offers. The Coastal Ranger Station at the end of Chain of Craters Road is the starting point for a 10-mile roundtrip hike to see lava enter the ocean at Kamokuna.
  • Night owl or early riser? The best time to observe the glow from Halema‘uma‘u is before sunrise, or after 9 p.m., when most visitors have left. The park is open 24 hours a day. You can see what Kīlauea is doing before you arrive by checking the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams.
  • Jaggar Museum is the closest visitors can get to the summit eruption’s glowing lava lake, and it’s the park’s most popular spot after 5 p.m. (More than 8,000 people were counted one evening at Jaggar Museum earlier this week.) If you can’t avoid peak hours, consider observing the glow from a less-crowded location, like Keanakāko‘i, ‘Akanikōlea (Steam Vents), or Kīlauea Overlook. From Kīlauea Overlook, it’s a short walk to Jaggar Museum along Crater Rim Trail, but bring a flashlight and a jacket.
  • Mauna Loa Road is well worth exploring during peak hours, especially in good weather. Kīpukapuaulu offers an easy, forested hike, and the views and birdwatching are excellent along the way to the Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet.
  • Visit Kahuku. Kahuku is free, never crowded, and is open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month. Located on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5 in Ka‘ū.

Island Air Embarks on Fleet Renewal and Expansion with Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

Island Air announced today that it has accepted delivery of the first of three Q400 turboprops from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. The new aircraft, the first to be added to Island Air’s fleet since the company was acquired by local Hawai‘i investment firm PacifiCap last January, is part of its long-term strategic plan for growth and expansion in Hawai‘i’s interisland travel industry. The new aircraft is expected to arrive in Honolulu by the end of the month.

Q400 turboprop

“As we look to expand our regional route network and connect local residents and visitors across the Islands, the reliable, operationally flexible and cost-efficient Q400 turboprop is the perfect choice to take our airline to the next level,” said David Uchiyama,‎ president and chief executive officer, Island Air. “Additionally, the comprehensive support from Bombardier in acquiring the aircraft and integrating them into our network reconfirms our decision to utilize this superior product for our fleet renewal and expansion strategy.”

The aircraft are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited (“Elix”). The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2017, and the third is expected to be delivered in April. Also in this agreement is an option for two more new aircraft. The airline plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400s and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service.

The Q400, which was built at Bombardier’s Toronto, Ontario facility, has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet.

The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advance noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai‘i market. In addition, its noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which will be less disruptive to the community as it flies overhead.

Island Air pilots have been undergoing a two-month training program to become certified to fly the Q400s. The training process included ground school as well as simulator training conducted in Seattle, Washington. The pilots will now have the opportunity to undergo flight training on the new aircraft. Other employees including flight attendants and the ground operational team members will also go through training with oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure all operational procedures are in accordance with the FAA.

Island Air will host a formal blessing and naming ceremony for the first new aircraft in January prior to the Q400’s inaugural flight.

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Features Open as Winter Weather Continues in Hawaii

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit reopened Saturday, although heavy rainfall persists at times. The snow-cloaked summit of Mauna Loa will remain closed to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

Nāhuku is open, but the lights are still out. Visitors must bring a flashlight to explore the 300-foot lava tube, which becomes pitch black just a few yards in without light, has uneven flooring, and a low ceiling in some sections. Rangers are stationed at the lava tube to assist visitors during peak hours, and signs are posted.

The park’s Kahuku Unit in Ka‘ū reopened Saturday morning and remained open through Sunday. The 116,000-acre Kahuku Unit is open to the public for hiking and exploring Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Mauna Loa summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“The park is open, and we remind visitors to drive with caution and aloha,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Roads are flooded in places, and visitors might encounter fog, additional rain and other inclement weather today and as the week progresses,” she said.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces Closures – Thurston Lava Tube Floods

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit are closed due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The summit of Mauna Loa remains closed to all day use and overnight camping. Closures remain in effect until it is safe to reopen.

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

On Friday, the floor of the lava tube was flooded with rain, and water covered the electrical conduit system. The power was shut off, but visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The Kahuku Unit, which is usually open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, was closed for the day on Friday morning due to flooding and a road closure on Highway 11. Staff will reassess conditions Saturday morning, and determine if Kahuku will open for the weekend.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning for Hawai‘i Island Friday afternoon through 5:15 p.m. HST.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa that remains in effect. Heavy rain and high winds pummeled the 13,677-foot summit, and abundant snow was visible on webcams and at sunset Thursday.

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“Park rangers will constantly monitor the roads and destinations within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during this storm, and additional closures may be warranted,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Hilo Passport Acceptance Fairs

Thinking about applying for a U.S. Passport? Don’t put it off any longer!
hilo-passport-fairApply for your U.S. Passport at a special Saturday Passport Acceptance Fair at Hawai’i Community College on December 3, 2016; April 1, 2017; and May 20, 2017.

To request an appointment, email your name, phone number, and preferred appointment date and time to PassportFair@state.gov. Walk-in customers will be accommodated as time permits.

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Offer Free Admission on 10 Days in 2017

There are 10 more reasons to enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2017! The park will offer free admission to all on 10 days in 2017.

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn.  NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The 2017 entrance fee-free days are:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free entry days, and come visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The park is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and is easily explored on foot or by vehicle,” she said.

Usually, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle and the pass is good for seven days. (The entrance waiver does not include camping fees). Park visitors can also purchase the annual Tri-Park Pass for $25 and enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park for less than seven cents a day. The annual Tri-Park Pass, which is good for one year from the date of purchase, is available at the entrance stations of all three parks.

An NPS report shows that 1,832, 660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

New Guided Tours to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island now have a new way of discovering the island and the famous Kilauea Volcano with the recent debut of Kilauea Summit Adventures.

kilauea-summit-adventuresCreated by Pat Wright, founder and owner of Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (the leading activity outfit for guided tours to Mauna Kea for 30 years), Kilauea Summit Adventures offers small group excursions along the Hamakua Coast to Volcanoes National Park.

summit-adventureProfessional guides with over 50 years of combined experience share their expertise in the history, culture and geology of Hawaii island, leading guests through the diverse climates unique to the island, starting at Waipio Valley lookout, along the Hamakua Coast, including Rainbow Falls, and to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  They journey around Crater Rim Drive, getting up close to steam vents and lava tubes, with a final visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook which provides a panoramic view of Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau crater.

waipio-lookoutThe new operation is managed by Mike Sessions, who has been working with Pat for 10 years. Guests are shuttled in micro coach vans with huge windows for viewing and coach-style seating for comfort. The 10- to 12-hour excursion includes admission to the national park, dinner, gourmet hot beverages, drinking water, rain ponchos, umbrellas, flashlights and convenient resort pick-up points at most locations along the west side of the Big Island.

summit-adventure-2For more information on booking a reservation, restrictions, and details of the tour, visit their website kilaueasummit.com.

Island Air Offers “Buy Three, Get One Free” Holiday Promotion

Ready to take a neighbor island vacation with the family or visit relatives and friends for the holidays? Now is the time to take that long overdue trip, and book tickets with Island Air’s limited-time holiday promotion, the Pā‘ina Pass – “buy three, get one free”.

island-airStarting today through Saturday, December 3, 2016, customers are able to make reservations utilizing the Pā‘ina Pass promotion. The travel period is Monday, November 28, 2016 through Wednesday, January 11, 2017. No blackout dates.

In order to qualify for the Pā‘ina Pass, “buy three, get one free” promotion, all travelers need to be booked on one itinerary and traveling to the same location on the same day, flight and time. This promotion cannot be combined with any other Island Air promotion, offer or deal, such as the Kūpuna & Keiki Fare, College Student Standby Program and Travel Pak.

Reservations for the Pā‘ina Pass promotion must be made by calling (800) 652-6541 between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. (HST).

For more information, visit www.islandair.com.

Hawaiian Airlines Pilots Closer to Striking – Possible Shutdown of Airlines

Many folks have seen Hawaiian Airline Pilots wearing lanyards that read “Fully Qualified… Partially Paid” for the last few months that represents the pilots frustrations with their contract negotiations.

I have learned that “mediation process” that was going on during November has ended without resolution.

What this means, is that Hawaiian Airline pilots are getting closer to a strike and shutdown of the airline!

mec-alertHawaiian Pilots:

Your MEC and Negotiating Committee were back in Virginia this week for the last scheduled round of mediation under the supervision of Senior Mediator Patricia Sims and NMB Board Chair Linda Puchala. Like our other sessions, mediation again ended without an agreement. To say we are unhappy is an understatement.

Management efforts to reach an agreement were completely unsatisfactory. While adding money to their previous substandard position, the company does not believe that Hawaiian pilots are due the market compensation that other pilots receive. Instead management continues to argue that we should work for less than our professional colleagues, or “buy” industry pay rates by generating offsets that fund those increases.

The MEC and NC categorically and emphatically reject that choice.  We are tired of subsidizing the company’s success. The company has no choice but to pay market rates for airplanes, and they will have no choice but to pay market rates for pilots.  It’s alarming that the CEO risks Hawaiian Airlines’ 2017 financial plans and projections, and its long-term future, by repeatedly denying the reality of the commercial marketplace.

Not only was the Company’s final pay proposal more than $20 less than the rates in recent pilot settlements, but also, management’s offer continues to pro-rate days off, keep vacation and training days at their current rate, and demand non-seniority list simulator instructors.

Early Saturday morning the NMB advised the bargaining parties that it will not schedule additional mediation sessions.  While no specific timeline was discussed, the NMB stated it will instead move forward with the actions available under the Railway Labor Act to bring negotiations to a close.  We left the meeting with renewed resolve to achieve a market-rate contract – and one that reflects our contribution to the company’s stunning and record profitability.

Senior management will no doubt try to “spin” a story about their latest proposal and argue that ALPA rejected a major pay increase without providing the full picture. We will provide additional information about the parties’ positions in the coming days.  The Association will also provide opportunities for increased pilot activity to warn the public about our looming dispute and possible disruptions to their travel plans once the RLA process is completed.  In addition, ALPA will soon be setting new informational picketing dates and other opportunities for you to show your resolve through lawful activity.

Amazingly, management continues to request contract concessions that facilitate more efficient training and operation!  In the face of management’s failure to consider the interests of Hawaiian pilots, ALPA pilot leadership has no appetite whatsoever for new LOAs like those.  In fact, we are considering whether it is even appropriate to continue existing discretionary arrangements.

It’s unfortunate that we have reached this point. Hawaiian continues to earn massive profits and its finances are stronger than ever. The company can afford your proposals. It simply doesn’t want to agree to them and considers pilot pay increases “discretionary” or “controllable.”  As the end of the year approaches, each Hawaiian pilot family must carefully review its personal financial situation to determine whether you are prepared for a strike. We recommend that major purchases or expenditures be postponed.  Be prudent and be ready.

Thank you for your continued interest, support and activity.  Regrettably, we will soon ask you to do even more to help bring home the market rate contract you have earned and deserve.