Hawaiʻi Seaglider Initiative Welcomes New Members Southwest Airlines and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

HSI to kick off discussion groups with corporate and community members

Honolulu, March 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Hawaiʻi Seaglider Initiative (HSI), a broad coalition of public and private organizations working to increase awareness and understanding of seagliders as a new affordable and accessible transportation option to Hawaiʻi communities, announced today the addition of Southwest Airlines® as a corporate member along with new community member Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaiʻi (HMHB). The organizations join more than a dozen existing members as HSI begins a series of monthly discussion groups intended to drive recommendations for adopting seagliders into the state’s transportation network. 

“We’re pleased to welcome our newest members to HSI and look forward to having their perspectives as we explore developing a new, sustainable transportation option for Hawaiʻi residents,” said David Uchiyama, co-administrator of HSI. Co-administrator Veronica Rocha adds: “Engaging both corporate and community members gives us the opportunity to align the capabilities of companies supporting seaglider operations with the core needs of the community members who benefit most from these services.” 

Southwest has served the Hawaiian Islands since 2019, operating at five airports in the Aloha State while supporting local Hawaiʻi nonprofits with over $3.2 million in cash and in-kind donations. Participation in HSI marks the first public engagement on battery-electric propulsion technology for Southwest. 

“Participating in this feasibility study to explore the introduction of 100% electric, zero direct emissions technology aligns with our own Nonstop to Net Zero plan,” said Helen Giles, Managing Director of Environmental Sustainability at Southwest Airlines. “Our agreement with HSI shows our Heart for Hawaii, its residents, and our Customers as we explore inter and intra island travel alternatives that have the potential to support our environmental sustainability goals.” 

HMHB provides social and mobile health services to pregnant and birthing people and their families across the state. In Hawaiʻi, service providers often struggle with reliable and cost-effective ways to transport patients and health supplies, especially in emergency situations.

“Accessible, affordable, reliable, and family-friendly inter-island travel options are paramount to addressing health equity. Seagliders address all of these in a nuanced and innovatove way that also promotes the values of ʻĀina stewardship and health equity, while heavily reducing environmental impact,” said Sunny Chen, Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii. “We had to jet ski into Lahaina after the wildfires to reach women and children, request special flights for urgent medication drops, and work with the military to get vital resources for families with young children such as baby food, breast pumps, and diapers on a C-17 flight. Solutions like seagliders are a vital part of the solution and should be incorporated into future emergency response and preparedness efforts.” 

Following the official launch earlier this year, HSI will kick off a series of member-led discussion groups this month focused on Community and Culture, Infrastructure, Resiliency, and Workforce and Education. The groups are intended to identify specific needs within each topic area and deliver actionable recommendations to help ensure seagliders can operate safely and efficiently to serve Hawaiʻi’s communities. 

Seagliders are a new mode of transportation that combine the speed of an aircraft with the low cost of a boat to drastically reduce the time and cost of transporting people and goods between coastal destinations. REGENT, the Rhode Island-based manufacturer of seagliders, expects the vehicles to enter into service by mid-decade. 

About the Hawaiʻi Seaglider Initiative 

The Hawaiʻi Seaglider Initiative (HSI) is a consortium of stakeholders from local government, Hawaiʻi communities, and the private sector, working to increase understanding and adoption of seagliders in Hawaiʻi with a focus on community, culture and the environment. HSI advocates for the use of seagliders as an affordable and accessible transportation option for Hawaiʻi communities that will help modernize the state’s transportation network while meeting its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets. Seagliders are all-electric, zero-emission vessels that operate exclusively over water at speeds up to 180mph, significantly reducing the time and cost of transporting people and freight between coastal communities. For more information visit: www.hawaiiseaglider.org


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