The Maui wildfires, fueled by winds from Hurricane Dora, resulted in tremendous damage in Hawaii’s second-largest island. It claimed the lives of at least 80 individuals, and authorities are expecting this number to still go up. This prompted the governor of Hawaii to issue an Emergency Proclamation discouraging non-essential travelers from going to Maui.
Now, airlines are playing their part in helping both residents and visitors escape the impact of the Maui wildfires. Some airlines have reportedly added flights and are now using larger planes to accommodate more evacuees, while others waived fees for travelers who changed their plans.
United canceled flights going to Maui on Thursday to accommodate more passengers heading back to the mainland. In a statement, it said that “Our teams are monitoring the situation closely and adjusting our schedule so we can keep serving our customers under difficult conditions.”
Hawaiian Airlines is offering cheap flights from Maui to Honolulu. Passengers can avail of the $19 flight until Monday. The company announced on its website, “We continue to operate flights to and from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG) and have added extra flights to focus on bringing guests out of Maui.”
It added that “Seats remain available today through Monday, August 14, 2023 for $19 to facilitate urgent travel out of Maui.”
Hawaiian also reserved space for important cargo such as medical supplies, blood, food, water, and infrastructure equipment. The airline announced that it donated different supplies for evacuees at the airport.
Southwest added flights to and within Hawaii on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. And similar to Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest also offered $19 flights for those who departed for Honolulu on Friday.
American Airlines announced adding an extra flight on Thursday. It also upgraded and switched to larger planes, “to ensure customers evacuating OGG (in Maui) are able to do so.”
The airline upgraded the Los Angeles-bound plane on Thursday from a 190-seater to a 273-seater plane. It also announced upgrading another LA-bound flight to a larger plane on Friday. American also added a one round trip rescue flight between Maui and Los Angeles for Saturday and another on Sunday.
The airline announced that it will “continue to monitor the evacuation needs from Maui and adjust our operations in a way that supports our customers and our team.”
Lastly, Alaska Airlines announced that even if it is delaying some of its flights, the airline is still operating eight daily departures from Maui with an additional flight added on Thursday.
On Thursday morning, a rescue flight left from Seattle carrying supplies such as baby formula, diapers, and water. The same plane was also scheduled to fly back to Seattle with passengers early Friday morning.
Normally, Alaska doesn’t offer flights between islands but in their blog post, the airline announced having flights between Maui and Honolulu to help people evacuate and bring supplies to the island. In a statement, it said that “What we’re seeing in Hawaii is devastating and we’re monitoring the situation closely.”
The Washington Post reported that more than 11,000 passengers left Maui on Wednesday, followed by 14,900 visitors who departed the area the following day according to Maui County officials.