Aloha To Another Bit Of Old Hawaii
Wednesday - April 09, 2008
Aloha Airlines used to be our jewel. It was always on time, the flight attendants were pretty and gracious, and we were proud of our little home-grown airline. It was local. It was ours.
But something happened. As the years passed and prices rose, Aloha lost its luster. We were helpless - captive customers to the monopoly twins Hawaiian and Aloha. “We need competition!” we screamed. And yet when the competition arrived -with names like Mid Pacific and Mahalo and Discovery - we watched as they flapped their weak little wings and eventually flopped. We were complacent.
But not for long. We continued to pay more and more and more until finally we were forced into making choices. Go to the Big Island for Auntie’s luau - or stay home. Hey, Vegas is almost as cheap! Let’s go there, instead!
Doesn’t anyone remember the outrage? We were begging for fare relief and go! came along and gave it to us.
Now, our first gut reaction is to blame go! for Aloha’s demise and there’s truth to it. go!‘s ridiculously low fares cut deep and wounded the already limping Aloha. Aloha supporters say go! and its deep-pockets owner Mesa Air played dirty and won.
Thing is, everyone who enjoyed those discounted tickets contributed to Aloha’s death.
Let me be clear. I am not blaming consumers for taking advantage of relief. And I am not saying people should boycott go!, although I understand why so many are feeling that way. I’m angry, too. My son came home from school and told us a classmate’s dad, a pilot for Aloha, had lost his job. All the kids in the class are sad for him and his family. My son wants to boycott go!. And when we fly to the Neighbor Islands, our first choice will be Hawaiian.
I know a lot of folks who feel as we do, but there are many who don’t. They just want to pay a reasonable price to get from point A to point B. A boycott is not the answer.
I think we all know these artificially low prices are about to disappear. We have only one other option - the SuperFerry - and that is proving less than reliable for interisland travelers.
The reality is we need more than one interisland airline in this state. And we will continue to pay through the nose to fly because fuel costs will continue to climb. We are at the mercy of forces we cannot control and will be unless and until renewable energy can be used to power airplanes. And we can all agree, sadly, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Only the airlines strong enough and rich enough and well-managed enough will survive.
Still - I mourn the death of our airline. Most of us who grew up with it feel the same sense of bewilderment and loss and something else - an uneasy realization that this is just another example of our disappearing culture. It’s as if another little part of Old Hawaii has been picked away. When I was growing up, Aloha Airlines was often our first introduction to the adventure and romance of flying. It was part of our identity - like rubber slippers, and Spam and rice. It was local. It was ours. It was with us for so long we took it for granted, and now it’s gone.
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