Decision Rests On Faltering Talks With Pilots
Hawaiian Airlines announced Friday
it may cancel a $4.4 billion deal to purchase up to 24 new Airbus
aircraft, due to a standoff with its pilots union.
The deal for Airbus A330 and A350XWB jets was expected to be
finalized this week, according to The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, to
meet a deadline set by Airbus and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce.
Pilots say the terms of the deal also must be approved by them.
Pilots are asking for changes in their sick-leave accrual,
improved rest facilities on long-haul flights and an end to the
contract negotiations that have dragged on for more than a
"They went out and they negotiated this deal and think we should
just be jumping up and down for joy saying, "Thank you very much
for getting these planes for us," and we'll go fly them," said
Captain Eric Sampson, chairman of the Hawaiian Airlines unit of the
Air Line Pilots Association. "The collective bargaining agreement
doesn't let them do that. This has to be a negotiation."
Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said the company won't comment
on the ongoing negotiations.
"We certainly can't commit our company to a future it can't
afford, and we felt an obligation to warn the financial markets
today that we have reached a point in negotiations with our pilots
that suggests we may not be able to move forward with our fleet
plan," he said in an e-mailed statement.
Hawaiian's long-haul fleet currently consists of 18 Boeing
767-300 airplanes, and plans were to replace four aircraft in the
next two years. The existing leases may need to be renegotiated
Stock analyst Nick Capuano, who covers the airline for Los
Angeles-based Imperial Capital LLC, said the Airbus deal is a
bonus, not a necessity, for Hawaiian.
"It is certainly not necessary in terms of the health of the
company," he said. "If they can't come to an agreement with the
pilots, it's better that they not do it."
Hawaiian's flight attendants reached an contract agreement late
Wednesday. That agreement will remain tentative until a deal is
reached with the pilots, according to Sharon Soper, president of
the Hawaiian Airlines unit of the Association of Flight
"The whole deal is contingent upon everyone reaching an
agreement," she said. "It is specific to working rules and
conditions surrounding these new aircraft."
The Airbus deal would result in a complete overhaul of
Hawaiian's long-haul fleet and allow the carrier to fly nonstop
from Hawaii to Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas.
As ANN reported last
November, the agreement calls for Hawaiian to acquire
six A330-200s and six A350XWB-800s, with purchase rights for an
additional six of each aircraft. Deliveries would begin in