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Sat, May 03, 2008

Aloha Airlines Cargo Flights Resume After Inouye's Appeal

Seattle-Based Firm Agrees To Buy Operation

Aloha Airlines resumed cargo operations Thursday evening, after the carrier reached an agreement with the US Bankruptcy Court to keep the vital interisland freight-and-mail-transport service going.

The Honolulu Advertiser reports a court-appointed trustee will oversee operations until May 14, when the unit of the now-defunct airline is sold to Seattle-based Saltchuk Resources Inc.

"They are waiting for me to push the button" to resume service, Aloha CEO David Banmiller said Thursday.

As ANN reported, Aloha shut down its cargo division Monday, after being denied additional financing by its primary lender, GMAC Commercial Finance, after both Saltchuk and a rival bidder, Jupiter Holdings Group, opted not to match GMAC's asking price of $15 million for the profitable operation.

The shutdown sent local leaders scrambling... as Aloha carries 85 percent of Hawaiian interisland cargo, including mail. Saltchuk said it decided to take a second look at its bid after US Senator Daniel Inouye made a personal appeal to the company.

"We re-engaged in our efforts to acquire Aloha's Air Cargo operation after Senator Inouye personally called us shortly after the shutdown of operations earlier this week," said Saltchuk President Tim Engle. "He was greatly concerned about the 300 jobs and the vital service that Aloha Air Cargo has provided for the people of Hawaii and asked we try once again to see if we could make something happen."

There's no guarantee Saltchuk will keep those 300 jobs... but the company has indicated it wants to hire existing Aloha employees to keep the cargo service going.

Aloha filed for bankruptcy March 20. The carrier grounded its passenger-carrying service March 31, after 61 years in operation.

FMI: www.alohaairlines.com, www.saltchuk.com

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