Last week I reported that a vocal contingent of County of Maui employees were nervous about the recent spate of small plane crashes on Maui and the neighbor islands. The story was anecdotal, based on my talking with various sources through a few different departments, but made the case that a considerable number of employees didn’t like having to fly to Lanai and Molokai so much. At Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Feb. 27 press conference on the most recent crash–a Maui Air charter flight departing Lanai that killed three people (including two county Planning Department employees) and badly injured three other county employees–I even asked Arakawa whether his administration would be reevaluating travel plans.
He said that employees currently can travel to Lanai and Molokai by ferry, but since many meetings take place at night, flying is the only really practical way to travel. Some county employees, like those employed by the County Council, often travel by sea to neighbor islands, but that typically requires staying overnight–a cost taxpayers have to bear.
I reported all that in our Mar. 6 issue. On the afternoon of that same day, Michelle McLean, the county Planning Department’s Deputy Director, sent a memo to County Communications Director Rod Antone saying that her department at least would be looking at new ways of getting people to neighbor islands.
“Speaking only for the Planning Department, yes, we will revisit the logistics and staffing for meetings on Lanai and Molokai and in Hana,” McLean wrote in the memo, which I obtained (The Maui News got a copy, too, and they published a story on it in today’s issue). “Until then, staff can travel by commercial plane or ferry to Lanai and Molokai, and by car to Hana, staying overnight when necessary.”
As for why Maui Air flight crashed shortly after takeoff, that remains under investigation.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons