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State roundup for January 10

Airline defends rising airfares

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — The chief executive of Hawaiian Airlines says airfares that have risen for travelers throughout Hawaii are reasonable given rises in fuel costs, government fees and other operating costs.

CEO Mark Dunkerley of the airline’s parent company, Hawaiian Holdings Inc., says the airline operates on very tight profit margins.

“When we make decisions, we have to make them very, very cautiously, because it doesn’t take much to take you from … profit-making to loss-making,” he said.

Dunkerley told members of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce that the airline’s profit for an overseas flight with 294 occupied seats is the equivalent of airfare for four passengers. He said that’s why the airline emphasizes customer service — a bad experience could mean a bad time for one of those customers.

“We’d have been better off just not flying that day,” he said.

Hawaiian set a company record in 2013 with 9.9 million passengers. The company had $41 million in net income for the third quarter of 2013. Fares for flights to and from neighbor islands and Oahu have climbed 28 percent since 2004. But the company says gas, housing and college costs have risen more quickly over that time.

Hawaii, resort seek land deal

HONOLULU (AP) — Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration is working on reaching a land preservation agreement this year with Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, he said.

Abercrombie is asking Hawaii state legislators for $40 million to protect 610 acres near Kahuku Point and Kawela Bay from development.

The state Senate’s Water and Land Committee and Judiciary and Labor Committee held a briefing Wednesday to hear an update on negotiations.

The state’s appraisal is between $31 million and $38 million. Turtle Bay’s figure is higher, primarily because of fixed infrastructure costs.

The state is waiting to hear from developers about a plan for less development. A land preservation agreement could prevent the development of 750 homes, but the resort could move ahead with two new oceanfront hotels.

State Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, indicated that the state House should be given information on the negotiations so the money might be included in that chamber’s budget draft. The House takes action on the state budget before the Senate does.


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