LIHU‘E — Young Brothers shipping company is seeking permission to discontinue less-than-container-load shipping of goods to and from Kaua‘i, according to a request recently submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission.
The request, which also includes a request for $25 million in CARES Act funds from the state, has been met with resistance from the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, which maintains the change in shipping procedures could hurt Kaua‘i business owners.
In a recent statement against the change, Mark Perriello, chamber president and CEO , explained that the decision would negatively impact sectors including manufacturing, retail, food production and provision, farming and construction.
“Some chambers members have reported they don’t have enough volume of business to utilize a full shipping container and that using air freight is prohibitively expensive,” Perriello’s letter reads.
According to Young Brothers President Jay Ana, the Hawai‘i-based shipping company had been predicted before March to hemorrhage a total of $13 million in 2020, with the projected loss now expected to grow more than that by the end of the year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Young Brothers hard,” Ana said. “Our projected losses will grow to at least $25 million unless we can chart a new course with the state Legislature and Public Utilities Commission. We remain hopeful that our continuing conversations with the state will yield a sustainable path towards a stronger future for our company.”
Like many other companies, Young Brothers implemented several cost-cutting moves to streamline their operation and overhead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the written letter to the PUC states.
“Our parent company covered more than $21 million in losses between 2018 and 2019. I was faced with the magnified losses described above, and I was recently informed that additional infusions of cash would not be available after May 31, 2020. Young Brothers expects that absent immediate relief from the state, (we) will soon be unable to pay our expenses or continue operations.”
The company has temporarily reduced sailing schedules to Maui. The other Hawai‘i counties reduced gate hours for non-barge days at all of the major ports, and implemented hiring freezes and salary cuts.
“Developing this contingency plan for Young Brothers involved some incredibly difficult decisions,” Ana said. “Ultimately, the people of Hawai‘i should know that our top priority is finding real solutions to ensure uninterrupted service to all of the communities we serve.”
Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.