HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaiian Airlines was forced to cancel several interisland flights on Thursday, April 14 because there were not enough certified pilots.

KHON2 learned the airline is still catching up on trainings due to flight simulator issues from early-2022.

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A total of 19 flights to and from neighbor islands were canceled Thursday while Hawaiian Airlines cited availability issues with interisland pilots. An aviation expert spoke with KHON2 to provided insight on the pilot certification process.

“Like either once or twice a year, a pilot has to go in to be recertified and it’s kind of like a half-a-day or several hours,” said aviation expert Peter Forman.

Hawaiian said the issue is B717 pilot availability, and Forman said that aircraft is the main work horse for interisland travel. If Hawaiian’s pilots were certified — just not for flying B717’s — it could have caused the problem.

“If they have some pilots are now moved to the, let’s say 717 from another, you know, piece of equipment, now that process of getting certified in a different piece of equipment is a very long drawn-out process that can take, you know, many weeks,” Forman said.

Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement they still offered 139 interisland flights on Thursday and accommodated all of their affected guests.

“For today, we canceled 19 Neighbor Island flights due to Boeing 717 pilot availability. We are still scheduled to operate 139 flights today between the islands and will deploy larger aircraft on certain routes to balance our capacity. We are reaccommodating all affected guests on other flights, and we thank them for their patience and understanding. We are catching up on pilot training because we had to conduct maintenance to our flight simulator for this fleet earlier in the year.”

Hawaiian Airlines

Forman added airport logistics is a tricky science.

“Airline scheduling is, is complex. I mean, obviously I think a lot of times they can juggle things around,” Forman said. “They’re probably wishful thinking, thinking, ‘Well, we can move things around.’ And it just didn’t work out, so that’s probably the case.”

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Hawaiian Airlines said 32 neighbor island flights are canceled on Friday, April 15 but 119 flights will still fly interisland and all affected passengers will be accommodated.