MAUI, Hawaii – According to Maui, Hawaii fire official, the emergency landing was due to an “engine problem”. The plane’s eight passengers and two pilots were all safe and accounted for. No injuries have been reported.
A Mokulele Airlines Cessna 208 aircraft made an emergency landing on Piilani Highway near Wailea on the south side of Maui earlier this evening. This is usually a busy highway on the tourism island of Maui.
The single-engine Mokulele Airlines plane with 10 people aboard turned Piilani Highway into a makeshift runway, making an emergency landing safely in the northbound lane on the normally busy South Maui thoroughfare Monday night.
The flight took off from Kahului Airport on Maui to the Big Island, experienced engine trouble and made the emergency landing on the highway that runs through South Maui parallel to the ocean.
There were more than a 100 people crowding around the plane and on the hills overlooking the highway, many taking pictures. There were people holding bags, apparently passengers, and being interviewed by police and Federal Aviation Administration officials. The doors on the airplane engine were open.
The airline was founded in 1994 as Mokulele Flight Service by Rebecca “Kawehi” Inaba, and was the first airline in Hawaii to be founded by a Native Hawaiian woman. In 2005 it was acquired by Boyer Industries LLC, headed by former baggage handler turned entrepreneur William “Bill” Boyer Jr., who became the airline’s CEO. The company, at this point, had a fleet of three Piper Navajo Chieftans and was only operating charters and sightseeing trips to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and scenic flights around the Big Island and Maui.
In September 2006, the airline announced that it had reached an agreement with Mesa Air Group and its go! division, whereby Mokulele would operate Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft to Kapalua, Molokai, and Lanai under the name go!Express. Service began with flights from Kapalua to Honolulu, Kahului, and Kona on April 17, 2007. Service began for flights to Molokai on July 21, 2007 and flights to Lanai on October 6, 2007.
In January 2008, the airline reached an agreement with Aloha Airlines to provide cargo service to Molokai, Lanai, and Kapalua under the name Aloha Cargo Express beginning in April using a Cessna 208 Cargomaster. Following Aloha’s March 2008 bankruptcy, Boyer indicated that he had an agreement with Aloha CEO David Banmiller to work with the buyer of Aloha’s cargo operations to continue the Mokulele-Aloha contract. Boyer also stated that the airline would go ahead with cargo operations under its own name, Mokulele Air Cargo.
In October 2008, Mokulele announced that it had reached an agreement with Republic Airways Holdings to provide inter-island jet service. On November 19, Republic’s Shuttle America began operating two Embraer 170 aircraft on flights between Honolulu, Lihue, and Kona under the Mokulele name, with additional aircraft and destinations to be added in 2009. As a result of Mokulele’s entrance into markets that compete directly with go!, that airline later announced that it would end the go!Express agreement with Mokulele in April 2009.
In December 2008, Mokulele Airlines announced partnerships with two larger North American airlines. The first, with Alaska Airlines, allows members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan frequent flyer program to earn and redeem miles on Mokulele flights, with a code-sharing agreement hoped for in early 2009. The second, with WestJet Airlines, provides access to Mokulele’s inter-island flights to WestJet’s customers, including sightseeing air tours. Each airline was to promote the other on their respective websites.
After running into financial difficulties earlier in the year, the airline announced in March 2009 that Republic had taken a 50% stake in the company. Boyer relinquished the CEO position to Republic vice president Scott Durgin, moving to head the airline’s sales and marketing efforts. Republic also assumed control of the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft operated by Mokulele. A few days later, Mesa announced that the change of CEO allows the airline to terminate its agreement with Mokulele early, and would terminate the agreement effective March 24, 2009 and nullifying Mokulele agreement to operate Caravans as “go! express.
In October 2009, Mokulele announced that it was going to join go! and become go! Mokulele. Peter Forman, an airline historian, said that the merger would cause air fares in Hawaii to increase, since go! and Mokulele no longer compete with one another. The merger agreement includes a joint venture, with 75% of the joint venture owned by Mesa and 25% owned by Mokulele shareholders.
In November 2011, Mesa Air Group announced that it had sold the go! Mokulele turboprop operation, operated by Mokulele Airlines, to Scottsdale, Arizona-based Transpac Aviation Inc. go!Mokulele’s turboprop services continued to be operated by Mokulele under a code share agreement. On Friday, December 9, Mokulele grounded its fleet in conjunction with an internal record-keeping audit. Flights resumed the following Monday.
In December 2011, the airline unveiled plans to begin operating a charter service from Honolulu to Rockford, Illinois and London. When the service was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation the following month, the schedule showed a Boeing 767-200ER leased from Air Transport International will operate the flights, with the Honolulu to Rockford segment beginning on April 13, 2012, and the Rockford to London segment starting May 4.
On April 8, the airline delayed the start of service until at least October. In early 2012, Mesa Air Group announced it would rebrand its jets operations back to the go! name as the name go!
Mokulele and Mokulele was causing some brand confusion among the two companies. The airline also abandoned its non-turboprop charter plans so it could focus on service in the isles.
In April 2012, the airline started operating daily service between Maui and Lanai. In July 2012, the airline returned to Kapalua Airport in West Maui, with flights from Honolulu to Kapalua twice per day.
In October 2012, the airline brought a new city to the network, Hana, located on the far east side of Maui. The flights operate twice a day under a partnership with the owners of the resort in Hana. The airline also outsourced eight flights a day to Schuman Aviation – Makani Kai, to bring additional frequencies on the Maui – Kona route, bringing the total daily flights to fifteen on peak days, each way. When Island Air announced plans to retire their fleet of Dash 8 aircraft, Mokulele jumped on the opportunity and ordered additional Caravans to fill the gap.
Mokulele presently flies 8 to 9 flights a day between West Maui and Honolulu, as well as 2 new flights linking West Maui to Kona, and a flight for tour operators to Hana, allowing customers on the “Road to Hana” tour to fly back to West Maui rather than drive. Passengers who flew to Hana can then drive back on the tour.
On May 23, 2013, the airline bid on Essential Air Service to Kamuela/Waimea, Hawai’i. The airline has proposed 2 flights a day to Honolulu for an annual subsidy of $584,000 compared to over $900,000 bid by Makani Kai. The airline is hoping to secure a 4-year contract and has proposed decreasing subsidies for each year of service. The US DOT awarded the route to Mokulele on July 2, 2013 with flights to Kahului expected to start in late summer.
Kamuela services started on time and with a completely full flight on September 21st.  The current plans of the airline are to continue phasing out the older Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft with new, factory delivered Cessna Caravans. Mokulele Airlines will soon [when?] be the largest passenger operator of the Cessna Grand Caravan 208EX, offering higher payload and a brand new Garmin 1000 “glass cockpit” software suite.