Hawaii: Airlines add flights for evacuees fleeing fires

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Airlines have added flights to keep travelers away from maui after some fires of forest on the Hawaiian island have killed at least 55 people and caused evacuations.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines said they were adding services to help customers leave. More than 11,000 people have flown off the island since the fires began, Ed Sniffen, the state’s director of transportation, told a news conference, NBC News reported. Much of the seaside town of Lahaina burned, after fires fanned by winds from theHurricane Dora.

Hawaiian Airlines said it added six additional flights to/from Maui on Thursday and was using larger planes between Honolulu and Maui to ferry passengers as well as water, food and other essentials. The carrier discouraged travelers without reservations from flying into Maui’s Kahului airport due to overcrowding. “While we are currently operating our full schedule and have seats available on flights departing Maui today, we are focusing our resources on transporting essential personnel and first responders,” said the carrier. He also warned of possible disruptions on other routes “as we work to meet Maui’s essential travel needs.”

A spokesperson forAmerican Airlines said the carrier plans to operate all scheduled flights to and from Kahului Airport on Thursday. American also has “added an additional flight and upgraded an aircraft today to ensure customers evacuating can do so”. The airline has swapped narrow-body aircraft Airbus A321which can accommodate about 190 passengers, compared to Boeing 777-200one of the largest planes in its fleet, which has 273 seats, according to American’s website.

Southwest Airlines also added service to Hawaii from US continental and intra-island flights. United Airlines canceled Thursday’s inbound flights to Kahului airport, but says she was flying empty planes there to pick up travelers to Maui. Alaska Airlines said it added a “rescue flight” Thursday, bringing the carrier’s total number of departures from Maui to nine.

All major airlines have waived fare differences and cancellation penalties for travelers whose trips have been affected by the fires.

John Walker Avatar