The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, has issued a request for proposal for airline services to accommodate passengers who are unable to secure alternative flights following the shutdown of ATA Airlines’ operations on April 2, 2008. ATA served the Hawai‘i market with 12 daily flights with routes to Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Following ATA’s announcement, HTA immediately contacted other airlines with service to the West Coast, but due to the recent closure of Aloha Airlines’ transpacific flights, many carriers are already operating at full capacity and unable to absorb the void left by ATA.
HTA then held an emergency meeting of its board on April 4 to approve the budget needed to help underwrite flights and fund other potential activities to assist travelers.
“Our primary goal is to address the needs of those passengers who could not find an available seat,” said Rex Johnson, president and CEO of HTA. “We are continuing to work with all stakeholders and involved parties to provide assistance so that passengers holding ATA tickets make it to their desired destination safely and within a reasonable time. This includes visitors trying to return to the mainland as well as Hawai‘i residents on the mainland who are trying to return home.”
If available, HTA will help underwrite flights for the next few days due to the unique conditions in this situation. Various hotels statewide are offering special considerations to stranded passengers for extended or emergency accommodations.
“We are looking at addressing the needs that the situation with ATA and Aloha Airlines have caused. While we anticipate some short-term impact to Hawai‘i’s air service, we are hopeful that there will be minimal long-term disruption,” said Johnson.
The HTA is working with the Hawai‘i State Legislature, the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), Governor’s Tourism Liaison and the Hawai‘i Hotel and Lodging Association (HHLA) to address long-term solutions.
ATA customers can check HVCB’s Web site www.gohawaii.com/ata for information on how to contact other airlines serving ATA’s markets. It is recommended that passengers get in touch with these airlines to determine seat availability and booking instructions before going to the airport. ATA updates are also linked to HTA’s Web site www.hawaiitourismauthority.org and all of HVCB’s island chapters’ Web sites (O‘ahu Visitors Bureau, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, Maui Visitors Bureau, and Big Island Visitors Bureau).
Neighbor Island Web Sites:
• Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau: www.kauaidiscovery.com
• Maui Visitors Bureau: www.visitmaui.com
• O‘ahu Visitors Bureau: www.visit-oahu.com
• Big Island Visitors Bureau: bigisland.org
Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority