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Sunday, December 03, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 3, 2023

Santa arrives with park staff and Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park CEO Elizabeth Fien to meet the keiki and give them presents at Holidays in Kahuku on Saturday.  Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses

HOLIDAYS IN KAHUKU WELCOMED THE SUN on Saturday. More than 700 people, about 500 from on island, attended. The Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's event at the Kahuku Unit's fairgrounds and visitor center began after four days of solid rain that threatened to wash it out. Park Guide Wendy Scott-Vance said the Kahuku unit experienced a long drought and had just bought water for the first time in about 15 years. As soon as the water flowed into the tanks, the rains came and tanks overflowed.
The South Point Winds, with Peter Bosted on oboe, Lisa Wells
on bassoon, Sara Kamibayashi on French horn and Farley
 Sangels on trumpet, opens with classic Christmas music. 
Photo by Annie Bosted
    On Saturday, sunrise brought a "crystalline day," said Scott-Vance, with the sunshine lasting until Holidays in Kahuku was pau, the tents taken down and the place cleaned. Then the rains came again.
    She noted that the lower fairground fields were spared from a muddy situation by a new parking regime that used an old airstrip about a half mile up the hill. Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park ran a shuttle most of the day. A road and hiking trail were available for those who wanted to walk it. She said the idea was to provide more parking while keeping handicapped parking next to the fairgrounds.
    For the non-profit Friends, which financially supports such park programs as Youth Rangers and Guardians of the Trails, this was its fourth Holidays in Kahuku. It ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More than 20 arts and crafts stalls served the public for Christmas shopping. Food trucks and stalls provided nourishment. Friends CEO Elizabeth Fien said it was "a fabulous event - great community. Next year is already set. Save the date, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2024."
The Kīpapa Sisters sing Here Comes Santa Claus, as he
comes in on a UTV. Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses
    Holidays in Kahuku opened with emcee Makana Kamahele and musicians in The South Point Winds, "a really beautiful beginning, with classic Christmas music," said Scott-Vance. Other highlights included the Kīpapa Sisters singing Here Comes Santa Claus, Right Down Santa Claus Lane, as he arrived on the Friend's UTV with Friends CEO and Vance to meet and greet the keiki and give them gifts.
   Also performing were Kumu Debbie Ryder and her Halau Hula O Leionalani, backed up by Demetrius Oliveira and Gene Beck, South Hawai'i Symphony, Jazz Gardeners and the Funk & Roll band Hot Potaytahs.
   John Replogle was inspired by a classic keiki story for his telling of Little Lei Puahi and the Wild Pua'a. Joining him on stage was 99 year old Pauahi Pulham, introduced as Kaʻū 's own Little Lei Puahi.
Emcee Makana Kamahele. Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses

        During Holidays in Kahuku, the Friends also introduced their new logo and logo wear, which can be purchased online at https://www.fhvnp.org/shop/

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES AND ALASKA AIRLINES WILL COMBINE, according to Hawaiian Airlines Newsroom, which lists benefits of the merger. It says the merger will create:
  Combined company to maintain Alaska Airlines' and Hawaiian Airlines' strong, high-quality brands, supported by a single, compelling loyalty offering.
   Expansion of fifth largest U.S. airline to a fleet of 365 narrow and wide body airplanes enabling guests to reach 138 destinations through a combined networks and more than 1,200 destinations through the oneworld Alliance.
   Enable Honolulu to become a key hub for the combined airline with expanded service for residents of Hawai‘i to the Continental U.S., creating new connections to Asia and throughout the Pacific for travelers across the U.S.
  A commitment to Hawai‘i that remains steadfast, including maintaining robust Neighbor Island air service, and a more competitive platform to support growth, job opportunities for employees, community investment and environmental stewardship.
Hawaiian Civic Club of Kaʻū served laulau and
other local food. Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses
    A commitment to maintaining and growing union-represented workforce in Hawai‘i.
   A combination that will result in immediate value creation with sizable upside. All-cash transaction of $18 per share offers attractive premium for Hawaiian Airlines shareholders and is expected to be accretive to Alaska’s earnings within two years post-close with at least $235 million of expected run-rate synergies.
    Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines issued a joint statement saying:
The Jazz Gardeners playing at the fourth annual Holidays in Kahuku.
 Aaron Loesser is on  double bass, Gabriel Cuevas is on drums and
Farley Sangels plays piano and trumpet, often at the same time.
 Cheryl Cuevas was their vocalist for some numbers.
Photo by Annie Bosted
    Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE: ALK), and Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Alaska Airlines will acquire Hawaiian Airlines for $18.00 per share in cash, for a transaction value of approximately $1.9 billion, inclusive of $0.9 billion of Hawaiian Airlines net debt.
     The combined company will unlock more destinations for consumers and expand choice of critical air service options and access throughout the Pacific region, Continental United States and globally. The transaction is expected to enable a stronger platform for growth and competition in the U.S., as well as long-term job opportunities for employees, continued investment in local communities and environmental stewardship.
A beaming Lisa Wells concludes shopping from Karen Newton
 and Laura Griffith who sold many hand-crafted rope baskets,
 coasters, jeans purses and fabric gift bags. Photo by Annie Bosted
    As airlines rooted in the 49th and 50th U.S. states, which are uniquely reliant upon air travel, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines share a deep commitment to caring for their employees, guests and communities. This combination will build on the 90+ year legacies and cultures of these two service-oriented airlines, preserve both beloved brands on a single operating platform, and protect and grow union-represented jobs and economic development opportunities in Hawai‘i, with a combined network that will provide more options and added international connectivity for travelers through airline partners including, the oneworld Alliance.
Teresa Davis of Ocean View shows her creations – hand-made doggy
 Christmas bandanas. She and her husband, Allyn, sell a wide
 variety of sewn and painted crafts under the label, 'Ohi'a Creation. 
Photo by Annie Bosted

   “This combination is an exciting next step in our collective journey to provide a better travel experience for our guests and expand options for West Coast and Hawai‘i travelers,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO. “We have a longstanding and deep respect for Hawaiian Airlines, for their role as a top employer in Hawai‘i, and for how their brand and people carry the warm culture of aloha around the globe. Our two airlines are powered by incredible employees, with 90+ year legacies and values grounded in caring for the special places and people that we serve. I am grateful to the more than 23,000 Alaska Airlines employees who are proud to have served Hawai‘i for over 16 years, and we are fully committed to investing in the communities of Hawai‘i and maintaining robust Neighbor Island service that Hawaiian Airlines travelers have come to expect. We look forward to deepening this stewardship as our airlines come together, while providing unmatched value to customers, employees, communities and owners.”
      Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO said that “Since 1929, Hawaiian Airlines has been an integral part of life in Hawai‘i, and together with Alaska Airlines we will be able to deliver more for our guests, employees and the communities that we serve.      “In Alaska Airlines, we are joining an airline that has long served Hawai‘i, and has a complementary network and a shared culture of service. With the additional scale and resources that this transaction with Alaska Airlines brings, we will be able to accelerate investments in our guest experience and technology, while maintaining the Hawaiian Airlines brand. We are also pleased to deliver significant, immediate and compelling value to our shareholders through this all-cash transaction. Together, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines can bring our authentic brands of hospitality to more of the world while continuing to serve our valued local communities.”


 Members of Halau Hula O Leionalai sing at Holidays at Kahuku on Saturday. Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses

Halau Hula O Leonalani dances for Holidays in Kahuku. Photo by Annie Bosted

The Knitwits provided hand-knitted hats, bags, scarves, sweaters,
 wraps and soft toys. Knitwit member Robin Stratton, on left,
 shows a crocheted garment to customer Michelle Mueller. Proceeds
  go to the Food Basket. Knitwits is a group of volunteers who meet
 weekly in Ocean View to knit and socialize. Photo by Annie Bosted
      The joint statement from the airlines also
promised more community and employee benefits:
   "As one of Hawai‘i’s largest employers, Hawaiian Airlines has a long legacy of commitment to its employees, who shaped the company over its 94-year history, and to local communities, culture, and the natural environment. As an integrated company, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines will continue this stewardship and maintain a strong presence and investment in Hawai‘i." 
    The statement says the combined company will drive:
John Replogle entertained fair goers with his telling of Little Lei Puahi
and the Wild Pua'a, a Hawaiian interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood.
Photo by Annie Bosted
    Growth in union-represented jobs - Maintain and grow union-represented jobs in Hawai‘i, including preserving pilot, flight attendant, and maintenance bases in Honolulu and airport operations and cargo throughout the state.
   Strong operational presence - Maintain a strong operations presence with local leadership and a regional headquarters in Hawai‘i to support the combined airlines’ network.
   Opportunities for employees - Provide more opportunities for career advancement, competitive pay and benefits, and geographic mobility for employees.
    Expansion of workforce development initiatives - Continue and expand access to workforce development initiatives, including Hawaiian Airlines' partnership with the Honolulu Community College Aeronautics Maintenance Technology Program and Alaska Airlines' Ascend Pilot Academy among others, to support future jobs and career opportunities in Hawai‘i and beyond.
    Investment in local communities - Continue to invest in Hawai‘i communities, combining and expanding the two airlines’ commitments, and work with local communities and government to build a vibrant future for Hawai‘i.
   Perpetuation of culture - Committed to promoting regenerative tourism in the Hawaiian Islands and investing in Hawaiian language and culture, continuing and building upon Hawaiian Airlines' existing programs.
Wilbur Won attends an impressive display of
hand-crafted jewelry, glass etchings and sculptures
 created by Ocean View artists Candice
and Rodney Crusat. Photo by Annie Bosted

    The statement also promises that both airlines will become "more sustainable." It says:

    "Alaska Airlines is committed to building upon both Alaska Airlines' and Hawaiian Airlines' strong commitments to environmental stewardship, including Alaska Airlines' five-part path to net zero by 2040 and sustainability goals in areas of carbon emissions and fuel efficiency, waste, and healthy ecosystems. In 2022, Alaska Airlines made its largest Boeing fleet order in its 90-year history, focused on the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft, which are 25% more fuel-efficient on a seat-by-seat basis than the aircraft they replace, and continued to expand use of route optimization software to help dispatchers develop routes that save fuel, time, and emissions.
    "Both airlines are actively working to advance the market for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in their respective geographies. These climate-focused efforts will continue, including continued investment in local sourcing."

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The Funk & Roll band Hot Potaytahs finished the day at Holidays at Kahuku.
Photo from Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Alaska Airlines waits for permission.
Hawaiian Airlines plans to marry Alaska Airlines.