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Home, visiting teams stuck by Island Air closure

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Lihue Bulldogs of the Kauai Youth Football league wrap up practice Friday not knowing whether or not they’ll be able to travel to Oahu.

LIHUE — Brad Hiranaka, commissioner for the Kauai Youth Football league, is worried.

Kauai Youth Football was booked on Island Air to fly from Lihue to Honolulu on Nov. 17 with 63 players, coaches and staff.

They will be joined by an additional 91 players, coaches and staff on Nov. 18 with plans to play football at Waipahu Field with Junior Prep Sports on Nov. 18 and take in the First Hawaiian Bank Hawaii High School Athletic Association football championships at Aloha Stadium.

But there’s a problem.

A big one.

“I got a text message from the Island Air sales manager Thursday night,” Hiranaka said.

“We are trying to get the refund from Island Air so we can try and salvage this trip, but so far, there are no answers, or refund. We are in a very stressful position. We paid nearly $20,000 for airfaire, and another $19,000 for rooms, buses, vans and game tickets (for the HHSAA championships). All of these players and cheerleaders worked so hard in fundraising efforts to make the trip possible.”

Hiranaka said he’s contacted Hawaiian Airlines and arranged to have seats put on hold, pending the refund from Island Air.

“But this is going to mean additional money because we need to come up with hotel rooms for the group planning to arrive Nov. 18,” Hiranaka said.

“It breaks down to about $30 more for each person just for the airfare adjustments.”

Impact of the Island Air ceasing operations effective Saturday rumbled across Kauai.

Maui robotics squad here left to scramble

“They didn’t tell us about this until we were on our way here,” said Anne Bailey, a teacher with the First Tech Challenge robotics team from St. Anthony’s on Maui.

“We were booked with Island Air, but they aren’t flying after Friday. How are we supposed to get back?”

Bailey said she spent her morning on the phone with Hawaiian Airlines to salvage the trip while her students competed in the first Tech Challenge at the Wilcox Gymnasium on the Island School campus.

“We’re the only team on Maui,” Bailey said. “We opted to come to Kauai rather than host a tournament.”

Following her conversations with Hawaiian Airlines, Bailey said they would depart Kauai on Saturday as planned.

“They could take the whole group, but one has to fly stand-by,” Bailey said.

“That’ll probably be me. And, we had to pay for the trip because, with the school, it’s not like the money is right there.”

Island Air shoots air ball for Kauai hoops teams

Over at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center where the Kauai Lynx Veterans Day basketball tournament unfolded for three days of competition, Eric Rita said the Kaulupono and Kauai Lynx were also scrambling to make arrangements after Island Air announced it was ending operations.

“It’s a good thing my daughter is good with the computers,” Rita said. “She did a lot of the work last night, like compiling all the girls’ information, after hearing Island Air was shutting down. We, Kaulupono and Kauai Lynx were booked on Island Air to fly to Maui for the Turkey Shoot basketball tournament.”

Rita said he had paid for half the fares for the team, with the remainder being paid for by team Coach Pedro Saligumba.

“We need to find out about getting our money back,” Rita said. “We have enough money from fundraising that we can pay for the Hawaiian flight, but what about the money we already paid?”

Hiranaka said after communicating by text throughout the day, he was told the accounting department is working on the refund.

“We haven’t seen anything by the time the banks closed today,” Hiranaka said Friday. “They’ll hold our reservations until Monday afternoon. If we don’t get the refund by then, the trip will be canceled. And even then, the kids won’t get all their money back because of cancellation fees. We’re just crossing our fingers.”

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