It has been announced that the Hawaii Superferry is suspending all operations immediately and laying off its employees this Friday. Customers with reservations have been promised refunds. Cancellation is not due to lack of business but rather a battle waged in the courts by Superferry opponents. On Monday, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of the opponents making continued operation not possible.
Opposing the Superferry were the Sierra Club, and an organization of residents concerned about a delayed Environmental Impact Statement. It is my understanding that Hawaii State Senator, Gary Hosier supported their positon as well.
In favor of Superferry was Governor Lingle and many of the users including business owners using it to ship goods among the islands. Business owners found the service to be more economical than shipping by air, especially given the availablity of ship power to run their refrigeration units. Shipping will now go by air or where speed of delivery is not critical, by barge. Residents traveling between the islands will need to rent cars at their destination instead of taking their own which will increase business at the rental car companies.
Superferry officials have not announced what they will do with the Alakai which was built especially for Hawaii interisland service. Neither is it known how the state will recoup its investment in harbor infrastructure which was supposed to have been repaid by Superferry. Employees will be seeking new jobs at an awkward time given Hawaii's high unemployment rate.
In August 2007, I posted a first-hand account of travel on the Superferry HERE.
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