U.S. DOT Exempts Hawaiian Airlines From Mainland Service

The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) granted Hawaiian Airlines a waiver to temporarily cease flying to eight mainland markets, agreeing that travel restrictions imposed by Hawaii’s governor make most service to the mainland unfeasible.

The decision means Hawaiian will not have to reinstate service to the eight markets, all of which it stopped flying to amid 90% capacity cuts in March and April owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, carriers receiving federal aid must maintain service to all domestic points, unless granted a waiver by DOT to suspend service.

The exemption covers Boston; Las Vegas; Portland, Oregon; New York; Phoenix; Sacramento and San Diego in California; and Seattle. In exempting the markets from the CARES Act mandate, DOT acknowledged the long distances Hawaiian would be forced to fly using widebody aircraft on routes with virtually no demand due to Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers.

Hawaiian will continue operating between Honolulu and the large hubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco. “We intend to resume services that have been suspended at other U.S. mainland cities in our network when it is reasonable and practical to do so,” a company spokeswoman said.

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