Mokulele Airlines (MW, Kona) says it needs to undertake more market research before launching services within the Florida Keys. The Hawaiian carrier had planned to open up scheduled Cessna (single turboprop) Grand Caravan 208B flights connecting Fort Myers Southwest Florida, Key West Int'l, St. Petersburg/Clearwater, and Bimini Int'l in the Bahamas between September and January.

However, Mokulele Airlines' Florida Project Manager Nate Vallier told Florida Keys Keynoter magazine that those plans had been put on hold indefinitely.

"We've put everything on hold temporarily," Vallier said. "We'd much rather wait for all the pieces of the puzzle to come together correctly and effectively so we can provide the service the Conchs deserve."

Vallier has also told the Key West Citizen newspaper that his airline had been threatened with being run out of business by incumbent Floridian operator Silver Airways (3M, Fort Lauderdale Int'l) should it begin operations there.

"We haven't abandoned Key West and are still exploring our options in Florida, but in light of these threats by a competitor, we need to make doubly sure that we have our ducks in a row, our pilots in place and everything perfectly on track if we're going to compete in a new market and ensure that our customers receive the service and satisfaction they deserve."

The underserved South Florida regional market has attracted much attention from regional US operators among them Cape Air (9K, Hyannis) which has now confirmed the launch of seaplane flights from Fort Lauderdale Int'l and Miami Watson Island to Bimini North SPB beginning January 16 of next year.