April 5, 2008
Aloha Pilots Make New Offer to Fly Stranded Passengers
Management Frustrating Pilot Offers Of Continued Assistance
HONOLULU - Aloha pilots made new offers today to transport stranded mainland bound and Merrie Monarch passengers and reiterated their standing offers to help Aloha Airlines continue its cargo operation until a buyer can be found and approved. The Aloha Pilots Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, (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 voiced concern that their offers are being frustrated by the actions of company senior management.
"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.”
Yesterday ALPA 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 contract offer from yesterday 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 arranged.
Yesterday, 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.
Aloha Airlines management announced last weekend that 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 and a long, rich history with ALPA, that hasn’t deterred Aloha pilots, through the MEC from exploring every avenue to assist the Company. Aloha pilots joined the union as pilots of Trans Pacific Airways in 1949 (the airline changed its name to Aloha in 1959). More than 300 pilots are employed by Aloha.
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.
The airline’s announcement comes as a surprise because management recently continued to explore strategic options including looking for larger aircraft and expanding operations to Asia. Over the past few months, Aloha pilots executed a series of Letters of Agreement in response to management’s plans.
Aloha filed first for bankruptcy in 2004, and pilots made concessions to help improve the airline’s financial position and attract new investors. The Aloha pilots agreed to a 24 percent pay cut, productivity enhancements, and the termination of their pension plan. ALO pilots gave more than $12 million worth of concessions to the airline to support its previous restructuring efforts to ensure Aloha became profitable and a stable airline.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International represents 61,000 airline pilots who fly for 43 airlines in the United States and Canada. Learn more at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contact: Kimberly Seitz, 808-838-0022