Union Is Continuing Efforts To Keep Flying
They're nothing if not persistent.
On Monday, pilots at now-defunct Aloha Airlines made new offers to
transport stranded Mainland-bound passengers, and travelers
attempting to return from the recent Merrie Monarch festival in
Hilo, and reiterated their standing offers to help Aloha Airlines
continue its cargo operation until a buyer can be found and
The Aloha Pilots Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line
Pilots Association, International (ALPA) said they were willing to
come to the airport immediately to fly inter-island or mainland
charter trips with the idle Aloha airplanes sitting on the ramp at
Honolulu International Airport. The union also "voiced concern"
their offers are being frustrated by the actions of company senior
"We are going to keep trying to help our community and our
company during this difficult shut-down process," said David Bird,
Aloha MEC Chairman, "It is ridiculous that there are stranded
passengers in Hilo trying to get home from the Merrie Monarch
Festival while idle aircraft sit empty on the ramp with pilots
available and willing to fly."
As ANN reported, Aloha pilots
said earlier this month they continued to explore a number of
options to assist the Aloha in continuing operations, even as
management at the airline proceeded with plans to shut the carrier
down permanently. One of those options included retraining Aloha
pilots to fly on cargo routes operated by Aloha.
ALPA says it offered a more expeditious and flexible method
enabling the immediate re-training of pilots for the smaller cargo
operation in accordance with their seniority rights. In addition,
the pilots offered to substantially reduce the amount of furlough
pay that pilots are entitled to under their collective bargaining
agreement. In return, the pilots asked the company to honor its
contract and continue medical coverage for 30 days and travel
privileges to enable them to search for new jobs in a tightening
market for pilots.
Management has responded negatively to the pilots' recent
contract offer, and used inflated cost figures to dismiss the
pilots' assistance offer. Instead, management has taken steps to
frustrate that offer. Management has sent pilots termination
letters, requested the return of their security and ID badges
making it impossible to clear security at the airport and shut off
access to company computers that would make it possible to bid
schedules for the continuing cargo operations.
Aloha pilots call on company management, interim lenders, the
Yucaipa Companies and the State of Hawaii to facilitate these pilot
assistance offers and to make funds available. Aloha pilots are
willing to have the State or the Bankruptcy Court facilitate
discussions between pilots, the company and prospective buyers to
help solve the transportation crisis as soon as those talks can be
Over the weekend, the Hawaii Tourism Authority gave tourism
leaders approval to spend up to $5 million in emergency funds to
underwrite additional airline service for passengers who have been
unable to secure alternative flights following the shutdown of ATA
and Aloha Airlines' operations.
"The Aloha pilots have always displayed the highest sense of
loyalty and support for their company and the State of Hawaii. ALPA
will not only defend their contract rights vigorously and represent
them in bankruptcy court, we will give everything we can to help
them move forward with their lives and careers," said Captain John
Prater, president of ALPA.
As ANN reported, airline
management announced March 31 it would cease all passenger
operations on March 31, just 10 days after filing for Chapter 11
reorganization, the airline's second bankruptcy in three years.
While the announcement may spell the end of 61 years of operations
for Aloha Airlines, that hasn't deterred Aloha pilots through the
MEC from exploring every avenue to assist the company... and
struggle valiantly to remain employed.
The airline's management blamed high fuel costs and predatory
pricing practices by its competitor, namely Mesa Air Group's go!,
as the reasons for its demise.