Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alternatives to Jet Fuel Topic of Monday’s Show

Hawaii’s economy requires a healthy tourism industry to thrive. Tourism in turn requires affordable air transportation to the islands from both east and west.

Jet fuel is the mother’s milk of Hawaii’s tourism industry, and when the price of oil increases, air travel becomes less affordable. That was never more obvious than in 2008, when oil prices soared to nearly 150 dollars per barrel. Record high oil prices and the worsening recession resulted in a steep downturn for our economy.

Could it happen again? Many observers believe it’s inevitable as long as Hawaii’s economic survival remains so overwhelmingly dependent on oil. Monday’s Energy Futures program on Hawai Public Radio will look at recent efforts to find a replacement for jet fuel before oil runs out or becomes so expensive few will be able to afford air travel.

AltAir Fuels Inc. of Seattle has signed an agreement with 14 airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines, to supply them with plant-based biofuel. We’ll discuss those efforts with company CEO Tom Todaro by telephone. With us in the studio will be Hawaiian Airlines vice president and long-time spokesman Keoni Wagner.

And we've added two other guests just today (1/11) -- John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist of the Air Transport Association, and Pat Takahashi, retired University of Hawaii profession and veteran of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute whose Huffington Post contribution a few months ago predicted severe economic troubles for Hawaii if energy costs were to return to 2008 levels.

Listeners can join the show by calling 941-3689 on Oahu and 1-877-941-3689 from the neighbor islands and beyond. Energy Futures is broadcast “live” on Mondays 5-6 pm HST on KIPO-FM (89.3 in Hawaii) and is streamed on the Internet.

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