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Airlines add flights to get travelers off Maui

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Passengers try to rest and sleep after canceled and delayed flights while others wait to board flights off the island as thousands of passengers were stranded at the Kahului Airport (OGG) in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui in Kahului, Hawaii on August 9, 2023. 

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Airlines added flights to get travelers off of Maui after wildfires on the Hawaiian island killed at least 36 people and prompted evacuations.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said they were adding service to help customers leave. More than 11,000 people have been flown off the island since the fires began, Ed Sniffen, the state’s transportation director, told a news conference late Wednesday local time, NBC News reported. Much of the seaside town of Lahaina had burned down, after the fires were fanned by winds from a hurricane.

An American Airlines spokeswoman said the carrier plans to operate all of the scheduled flights to and from Kahului Airport in Maui on Thursday. A spokeswoman said the carrier has “added an additional flight and upgraded an aircraft today to ensure customers evacuating OGG are able to do so.”

The airline swapped out Airbus A321 narrow-body planes, which can seat about 190 passengers, for some of the flights for a Boeing 777-200, one of the largest planes in its fleet, which have 273 seats, according to American’s website.

Southwest Airlines also said it was adding service to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland and intra-island flights.

United Airlines said it has canceled Thursday’s inbound flights to Kahului Airport, but that it’s flying aircraft in empty to pick up travelers on Maui.

All major airlines waived fare-differences and cancellation penalties for travelers whose trips were impacted by the fires.


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