Phantom Missile Alert in Hawaii

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So what’s up with the missile attack warning that was sounded early this morning at the 8 o clock hour? Many Hawaii residents statewide got cell phone text messages that read:

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT DRILL.”

Several of my friends got the message by cell phone text alert. I did not.

The first I heard about this was a text that I got from my friend Daniel which read: “Did you just get an emergency text????” I answered in the negative. No text message for me. He followed up, “I am not joking.” He attached the screen shot from his phone as shown below:

Emergency Text Message
The emergency text that came to many cell phone early this morning (Jan. 13).

A few moments later, my friend Lisa called. She was in a state of panic. It was aggravating to her since she is also down and out with a viral strain of influenza. She also got the emergency text message.

Talking to her on the phone, I told her that it was probably a false alarm, but also to listen to the radio. I began to think it was a false alarm even if I was worried for a few minutes after the initial call.

What prompted me to this was the fact that when I turned the radio to KSSK AM & FM (where they have in the past did outstanding broadcasts of local emergencies) there was nothing to be found except for a re-run of a previous Perry & Price radio program.

Nothing there. This is likely a false alarm.

While talking to Lisa on my landline phone, I called Daniel on the cell phone. He told me his wife Emma had called the 911 emergency number who told her that it was, indeed a false alarm.

Just to make doubly sure, I called 911 after I got off the phone with Daniel. By then everyone else was probably in a panic as the 911 number was busy. Pity the poor soul who had to call if it was an actual emergency. Goes to show that in a massive alert scenario, that calling 911 will likely yield a busy signal unless you get in early.

Soon I took to Facebook where my friends and others were commenting on the situation. In about a half hour it was agreed and known among many that the emergency texts were a false  alarm.

Surely someone at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has to take responsibility for this major false alarm. A breaking news article published at the Honolulu Star Advertiser website stated that an “employee pushed the wrong button,” during a shift change.

An investigation is likely pending. Governor David Ige had a few words to say at this press conference today (KHON TV video):

Vern T. Miyagi, Administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says they are investigating the incident and procedures. He did not or was not able to answer questions as to who specifically pressed the button at the agency and why not all cell phone users got the emergency text message.

The Governor and  agency have stated that they will not let this type of false alarm happen again.

There likely will be further news, discussion and legislative hearings on this in the coming days and weeks.

Hawaii can rest assured, that despite the dire warning and short term panic, that today’s “missile attack” was not the real thing. Perhaps it is a wake-up call to bring this issue to the forefront and help us be prepared for the next time.

 

 

 

 

Unpaid Lease Rents for
Q400 Kills Island Air

Flying Inter-island in Hawaii banner

I have never flown on Island Air and never will.

Island Air announced that they would cease operations at the end of today, November 10. 

The shutdown comes nearly a month after the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It tried to find major investors to prop themselves up. In the end that did not happen. The company that they leased their recently acquired 78-passenger Q400 turboprop planes forced Island Air to close after the airline did not meet lease rent payments for the aircraft.

As a result, more than 400 people will be out of work and passengers will be stuck with worthless tickets that they may be able to get refunds from through their credit card companies.

Island Air was in business for 37 years, starting in 1980 as Princeville Airlines. Back then the airline flew deHavilland Twin Otter prop planes between Honolulu and the privately owned Princeville Airport on Kauai.

In the 1980s Princeville Airlines was acquired by Aloha Airlines which renamed the commuter carrier Aloha Island Air. They continued to operate the small, 18 passenger Twin Otter planes. In time the fleet was upgraded to the deHavilland Dash 8 turbo-prop that carried a little more than 30 passengers.

Island Air N943WP

The airline was successful with the Dash 8’s and continued for many years under a few ownership changes through the 21st century. In the 2000s, Island Air started flying the ATR 72 (photo above) turboprop which carried about 68 passengers. They briefly had a Q400 in their fleet for a short time in 2006.

This year, with some fanfare, Island Air decided to retire their ATR 72’s and acquired 5 78-passenger Bombardier Q400 turboprops which are based on the earlier versions of the Dash 8. The new planes were supposed to offer better passenger comfort and cost savings.

Never happened. Unpaid lease rents for the new aircraft, no profitability in the past 4.5 years, and the bankruptcy filing all caught up with Island Air as it died from a lack of cash.

Sad story for the local airline.

The inter-island market is now stuck with Hawaiian Airlines (and its subsidiary Ohana by Hawaiian) as the only major player in the market. Expect ticket prices to hike again.

The demise of Island Air opens the door wider for the possible entry of Southwest Airlines into the inter-island market since their service announcement was made in early October.

Inter-island air travel will be an interesting topic to continually watch.

Aircraft that Island Air operated

Video Report – KHON TV

Flying Inter-Island in Hawaii

Flying Inter-island in Hawaii banner

Southwest Airlines // Boeing 737-8 MAX // N8711Q (cn 36979, ln 6272) // KCMH 10/1/17
Southwest Boeing 737-MAX jets will be flying to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland sometime next year. Photo by Micheal Wass.

The anticipated arrival of Southwest Airlines to Hawaii’s skies has created a possible scenario that grows larger every day with the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by local carrier, Island Air.

First off, Southwest announced earlier this month that they will be starting up West Coast USA to Hawaii service using their new Boeing 737 MAX jets. The airline is in the process of getting ETOPS certification and securing gate space at Hawaii airports. The airline has not announced their Hawaii – U.S. mainland destinations, but it can be assumed that the airline will at least be flying to Honolulu and Kahului, Maui with Lihue and Kona being fairly good bets too.

What is most interesting about Southwest’s entry into the Hawaii market is the possibility that the airline will start “limited” inter-island service. 

Southwest Airlines is popular with many mainland flyers as they are known for being a low-cost carrier and do not charge fees for checked baggage or flight changes.

The announcement comes at a precarious time for Island Air, the state’s second largest inter-island carrier. They filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a week ago after a dispute concerning lease rents for three of their Q400 aircraft surfaced. The lessor wants to repossess the aircraft. They filed a lawsuit in bankruptcy court to force the airline to give up the planes. Should the lessor prevail in the lawsuit, Island Air which is down to those three planes after two other Q400s were taken away will be forced to go out of business leaving 400 people unemployed.

Island Air N943WPOne of Island Air’s ATR 72s, which were just retired, passes by the Hawaiian Airlines maintenance hanger in this photo shot in 2015.

Island Air recently retired their fleet of ATR 72s hoping that the Q400s would help bring costs down.

Should Island Air close, longtime incumbent, Hawaiian Airlines will more than likely increase their inter-island ticket prices (which are high already) as they reign in their near-monopoly position in the inter-island market.

COMMENTARY

  1. It will be a sad day in the local airline industry if Island Air goes out of business. In 2008 Aloha Airlines went out of business after being in the market for more than 60 years. Mesa’s Go! airlines which disrupted the inter-island market in 2006 contributing to Aloha’s demise, went out of business in 2014.
  2. The possible entry of Southwest into the inter-island market will be a great option for local residents who have been negatively impacted by Hawaiian Airlines’ high ticket prices and baggage/change fees.
  3. There will definitely be room for Southwest should Island Air go out of business.

What do you think? Send us a comment.

 

Progress on Sinkhole Road Repair

Sinkhole!

Road Still Closed
The Diamond Head entrance of the Ala Moana Beach Park access road remains closed nearly three weeks after a sinkhole was discovered on September 13. The entry way near the Waikiki Yacht Club up to the turn-in to the Magic Island parking lot remains closed off to vehicular traffic while workers continue to fix the hole. The sinkhole is mostly covered with a new layer of gravel. Work continues on the adjacent sidewalk and new pavement have yet to be applied. The road repair should be done by the middle of this month.

Still Fixing the Sinkhole

Workers continue to repair the segment of roadway that was impacted by a sinkhole (above and below).

Still Fixing the Sinkhole

Still Fixing the SinkholeWalkers, joggers and bicyclists still have access to and from the park through the construction area on the Diamond Head end of the Ala Moana Park access road. Photos by Mel.

SINKHOLE!

Sinkhole!

Sinkhole in the RoadSo what’s up with this large sinkhole crater at the Diamond Head end of the Ala Moana Beach Park access road? The hole manifested itself as a shallow pothole on September 13. City & County of Honolulu officials closed the Diamond Head end of the access room late that afternoon to motorists. The road has been closed ever since. No one with a motorized vehicle can access this stretch of roadway. Entry and exit into Ala Moana Beach Park by motor vehicle can only be gained from the Ewa end of the access road.

The access road’s sidewalk is still accessible by bicyclists and pedestrians. Good for the walkers and runners who frequent one of Honolulu’s most popular parks.

As these photos show, the sinkhole started as a small depression. City engineers decided the depression was a larger problem. So they decided to dig in and today this is what we have. A large rectangular shaped hole in the middle of the road filled with stagnant water.

I’ve heard guesstimations that the city will take at least a month to get the hole filled and the roadway repaired. Hopefully the process can be accelerated. We’ll see. No one is holding their breath on when the city will fix the hole. Most government projects take longer than anticipated. Furthermore no one knows how much will it cost to fix the hole. We’ll see.

Until then, happy walking in through the Diamond Head end. Your vehicle is not welcomed.

UPDATE: As of 9:30 am this morning the water in the hole has been filled up with new gravel. It is quite possible the whole thing will be fixed by Monday if not earlier.

Sinkhole In the RoadThe less than humble beginning of the Ala Moana Beach Park access road sinkhole.

Sinkhole in the RoadAs of September 21 the sinkhole was huge and filled with stagnant water.

Sinkhole In the RoadThe first roadblock on the access road just outside the Waikiki Yacht Club. Perhaps the rich people who go there may push the city into completing the repairs sooner rather than later.

Sinkhole in the RoadThis detour sign is not for motorists as the roadway is blocked several yards away from this area.

Sinkhole in the RoadThe road is closed from the Diamond Head entry of the Magic Island parking lot to the Diamond Head entryway on Ala Moana Boulevard.

We’ll follow up with progress and more photos of the sinkhole. Hopefully it will be gone soon.