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Posted: Friday, June 21st, 2013 12:12 PM HST

Feds considering subsidizing flights to Waimea

By Associated Press

HILO, Hawaii (AP) Three airlines are seeking a federal contract to operate subsidized flight service to the Big Island's Waimea airport.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the companies are Pacific Wings, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai.

The subsidized flights would go to either Honolulu or Kahului.

Waimea residents currently must drive to Kailua-Kona or Hilo to fly interisland.

The flights would be supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes service to rural areas.

Waimea Community Association President Sherman Warner says the program would pay for 12 flights a week at 80 percent of the cost.

Mokulele CEO Ron Hanson estimates flights to Kahului would cost passengers between $59 and $89. Rates to Honolulu would be a little higher but comparable to other airlines.

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