LIHUE — Starting next month, Makani Kai Air will begin air service between the Princeville Airport and Honolulu.
The airline announced Wednesday it will offer twice-daily round-trip flights starting May 1. The trip will take about 48 minutes and cost $125 each way, according to a statement issued by the airline.
“Residents of Kauai’s North Shore have not seen regular air service since Island Air ceased operations to Princeville Airport in 1997,” Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Air, said in a press release. “We have had many encouraging discussions with members of the community who very much want to re-establish a direct connection to Honolulu. The convenience of direct flights cannot be overstated.”
The airline will provide service with a twin-engine Piper Chieftain that can accommodate nine passengers. In Honolulu, Makani Kai Air provides a free shuttle service to the main terminal.
Princeville Airport, which opened in 1977, at one time offered daily air service to Honolulu by Princeville Airways and then by Island Air. Peak travel came in 1994 when some 27,943 passengers used the airport.
“Historically speaking, the Princeville area has shown an appetite for direct air service to Honolulu,” Schuman wrote. “Our customers appreciate not having to fight traffic into Lihue, not having to go through a TSA line, and they appreciate our fixed airfare, which doesn’t change from day to day. There are no surprises over what our airfare might be on a holiday weekend or any other time.”
Makani Kai Air is located at 130 Iolana Place in Honolulu on the side of the airport opposite the main terminals.
The airline, was established by Schuman Aviation Company in 2009. The parent company also operates Magnum Helicopters, often featured in the CBS crime dramas “Magnum PI” and “Hawaii Five-0.”
The aviation company operates seven Cessna Grand Caravan turbine aircraft, a Piper Chieftain twin-engine airplane, a Eurocopter AS-350 A-Star, and three MD-500 helicopters.
Two Makanai Kai Air flights have been involved in accidents since the airline started 10 years ago.
In December 2013, state Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy was killed when a Makani Kai Cessna crashed into the ocean shortly after taking off from Kalaupapa Airport on Molokai. The other seven passengers and the pilot survived. A report by the National Transportation Safety board later found that the accident could have been avoided.
In March 2017, a Makani Kai Air pilot nearly ran into another plane while attempting to land at Kalaupapa Airport. After maneuvering to avoid the other plane, the pilot was forced to crash land. None of the passengers were injured.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.