KAILUA-KONA — A Hawaii ocean shipping firm requesting federal coronavirus relief funding will continue operations under a reduced schedule and move its barge service to Mondays, officials said.
Young Brothers LLC will operate under the reduced schedule for the next month, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is investigating the financial condition of the state's only regulated interisland cargo company after it requested $25 million in federal coronavirus relief to remain in business.
The 120-year-old Honolulu company is considered valuable to local economies, especially on smaller islands such as Molokai and Lanai that depend on its tug-and-barge service.
The utilities commission last week approved a 30-day extension of the company's sailing schedule effective June 12 that will include adjustments.
Among the changes, Young Brothers plans to move the barge arrival day in Hilo on the Big Island from Thursday to Monday.
The adjustment is expected to help farmers and other producers who have had difficulty getting perishables to market in time for the weekend.
"We listened and worked with our customers and elected officials to adjust the sailing schedule to Hilo, ensuring we can best serve the needs of local farmers, and all of Hawaii Island, in these challenging times," Young Brothers President Jay Ana said.
Without the $25 million federal relief funding, which must be approved by the utilities commission, Ana said the company would have had to maintain a reduced sailing schedule and make additional cuts.
Democratic state Sen. Lorraine Inouye pushed for the change in barge shipping days.
"We're pleased, and our exporters are happy as well," said Inouye, the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Transportation.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.