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Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

Kamaka Air

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Hawaiian operators bring relief to Lahaina communities
Kamaka Air and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters brought essential supplies to thousands of hotel guests, residents and emergency responders, a testament to the impact that collective goodwill can achieve.
Kamaka Air, an operator of the Cessna Caravan and SkyCourier aircraft, facilitated 10 evacuation flights and multiple free cargo flight deliveries.
Read this story in our October 2023 printed issue.

Kamaka Air has expanded its relief efforts to support the citizens of Maui after deadly wildfires ravaged the island at the beginning of August. The Honolulu-headquartered Cessna Caravan and SkyCourier operator facilitated 10 evacuation flights and multiple free cargo flight deliveries with over 65,000lbs of essential supplies such as food, clothing, medicine and household goods.

“Our hearts are with the people of Maui during this challenging time, and we extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends who experienced the loss of a precious life. We hope that the essential supplies shipped and our passenger charter flights provide comfort and relief for citizens who relocated temporarily for shelter,” says Kamaka Air president Jim Petrides.

When news broke of the devastation in Maui, Kamaka Air received many donations, a collective effort that demonstrates the spirit of unity across the region in times of hardship, the company says.

“We recognise our donors and community heroes, such as Archie Kalepa, a world-renowned waterman, surfer and retired lifeguard who, with his team of volunteers, responded quickly to the needs of the Lahaina community and provided much-needed medical supplies, essentials and life-sustaining food to those in need,” says Lana'i station manager Joelle Aki Aoki. “His immediate response to the disaster saved hundreds of lives in Lahaina.”

As the Lahaina community seeks to rebuild and restore Maui, Kamaka Air’s actions underscore its dedication to supporting neighbouring communities and alleviating distress during crises.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, too, chose to focus on disaster relief efforts, pausing its tourism operations for nearly two weeks.

“Our top priority was helping those impacted by the fires,” says president Quentin Koch, who got an emergency authorisation to land helicopters in Lahaina to transport basic supplies to thousands of hotel guests, residents and emergency responders. “As Hawaii’s only FAA SMS-certified tourism company, our highly trained pilots quickly transitioned from tour guides to heroes almost overnight.”

Director of operations Eric Hamp adds: “Our safety policies and training allowed us to arrive on scene at sunrise the morning following the fires. And we continued to provide our full support until adequate resources were received by our residents and hotel partners.”

Over the course of the wildfire devastation, Blue Hawaiian provided more than 4,000 meals, countless pallets of water, clothes and essential fire equipment that was needed for first responders. The company was also able to perform free special charter flights to help get tourists and residents out of the Lahaina area as the road remained closed for up to five days.

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