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October 21, 2003
ALPA, HAL Set Stage for Retirement Discussions
HONOLULU --- Hawaiian Airlines and the union representing HAL pilots have reached a temporary out-of-court agreement aimed at setting the stage for discussions over retirement issues. The agreement would result in the resumption of some company contributions into the pilot groupís pension plan.
Capt. Jim Giddings, chairman of HAL unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), said that under the short-term arrangement, HALís bankruptcy trustee will agree to resume the carrierís 10 percent monthly contribution to the pilot retirement plan, beginning with the October 2003 contribution.
The agreement will remain in place for at least 120 days, giving both sides more time to negotiate a more permanent solution to the pension issue. A federal bankruptcy judge is scheduled to hear evidence October 24 on whether HAL should be permitted to avoid making a $4.25 million pension contribution due Sept. 15. Giddings said the union and bankruptcy trustee Joshua Gotbaum would jointly ask US District Judge Robert Faris to delay the hearing for the same 120-day period.
"They still owe the back payments. Thereís no question about that, but this temporary agreement will allow some time for a reasoned discussion about the overall issue. Thatís really what we were expecting right up to the point that the Trustee filed his motion to defer the Sept. 15 payment," Giddings said. "We felt like our plan was under attack, and weíre still anticipating some tough conversations, but at least the process is back on track."
Giddings said the 10 percent contribution for the months of March through September 2003, along with the larger $4.25 million contribution, will be held in a segregated bank account and considered restricted funds by the company.
Under HALís collective bargaining agreement with ALPA, the company is required to place an amount equal to 10 percent of its current monthly pilot payroll into the pension fund, or about $300,000 per month. In March, ALPA agreed to let the company temporarily defer these monthly payments to help preserve operating cash.
Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines is the nationís 12th-largest carrier, with 135 daily flights flown by 420 pilots who operate a fleet of B-717 and B-767 aircraft.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the worldís oldest and largest pilotsí union, representing 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web site at http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Vance Tilley, 808-557-9357
Rusty Ayers, 847-323-9519