(BIVN) – An airline industry spokeperson gave a presentation to the State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 on Thursday, detailing how the pandemic has impacted travel operations. However, the state lawmakers were most interested in how the airlines’ customers were being informed about the ongoing 14-day quarantine for all visitors to Hawaiʻi.
State Senator Donna Mercado Kim said she went to the United Airlines website and saw no mention of the mandatory 14-day quarantine, “or any mention of COVID.”
Sean Williams, the Vice President of the Airlines for America trade association, said he could not speak specifically about what each airline may or may not be doing, but he did say that “every carrier is doing a minimum of communicating with their passengers before they leave in one way or another.”
“Why can’t there be a consistent message?” Kim asked, adding that the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority “has spoken to all the airlines and told us that they agreed they were going to do something.”
“I think the airlines have made the decision about what is the most effective way to communicate with passengers who are actually traveling” about the mandatory quarantine, Williams said, “and so, I’ll pass your direct concern along to them.”
Williams explained to the senate committee that passenger volumes are down 98% to the State of Hawaiʻi, while bookings remain 95% below the levels seen one year-ago. According to his presentation, “U.S. airlines are currently burning through $10 billion of cash per month, with the aim of reducing that figure sharply between now and the end of the year.”
As far as letting passengers who are traveling to Hawaiʻi know about the COVID-19 quarantine that awaits them when they land, Williams said each airline may be doing something different, such as email notices or gate announcements.
Senator Kim says the notice should be on the website, at the point of sale. “The concern is if you put it on the website, you give people advance notice,” Kim said. “If you wait till they get to the gate, and they find out and then they decide they don’t want to come, then it’s too late.”
Thursday marked 6 weeks since the Governor David Ige’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. On Wednesday, 669 people arrived in Hawaii, including 233 visitors.