Hawaii Superferry files for bankruptcy
By Bob Van Voris
Bloomberg News Service
Hawaii Superferry Inc., which provided high-speed ferry service for cars and passengers between Oahu and Maui, filed for bankruptcy protection today.
Hawaii Superferry and parent HSF Holding Inc. filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in Wilmington, Del. They cited a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in March that struck down a state law permitting the company to operate before completing an environmental impact statement.
Tom Fargo, Hawaii Superferry’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement at the time that completing an environmental impact statement could take a year. As a result of the decision, ferry service was immediately shut down and the company’s two high-speed ferries docked in Mobile, Alabama.
The company, which reported more than $100 million in assets and debts in its bankruptcy petition, said it will use the bankruptcy to close its business completely and liquidate the operation.
Hawaii Superferry was formed in 2002 to provide high-speed ferry service among the four main Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai. The company began carrying passengers in August 2007 on the Alakai, an aluminum-hulled catamaran that carried as many as 866 people and 282 cars, according to court papers in the bankruptcy case.
The law struck down by the Hawaii Supreme Court was enacted in November 2007 to permit the ferry to keep operating despite a series of successful state court legal challenges, Hawaii Superferry said in a court filing. The high court ruled that the law was intended specifically to benefit the company, in violation of the state constitution.
In addition to the court decision, Hawaii Superferry said its business was hurt by a decline in tourism, a 2008 increase in fuel prices and a price war between airlines that provided inter-island service in Hawaii.