February 3, 2009
Hawaiian Pilots Warn Investors: We Need A Contract Now
SAN DIEGO – Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), took their campaign for a new contract to the streets of San Diego on Tuesday, warning the airline’s principal investor that Hawaiian has “zero percent on-time performance” in settling pilot negotiations.
ALPA pilots have chartered a rolling billboard to drive through San Diego, the headquarters city for Ranch Capital LLC, which owns a 35 percent majority stake in Hawaiian. The mobile billboard will appear repeatedly outside Ranch Capital’s corporate headquarters, the San Diego hotel where the Ranch Capital board of directors is meeting this week, and Ranch capital CEO Larry Hirschfield’s neighborhood.
“We want to make it very clear to our owner and principal investors that Hawaiian pilots are fed up with the stall tactics being employed by our management at a time when the airline is financially secure and outperforming most of its competitors,” said Capt. Eric Sampson, chairman of ALPA’s Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council. “For an airline that prides itself on on-time performance, Hawaiian is woefully underperforming in coming to fair and reasonable contract terms. We want a new contract now.”
Hawaiian pilots have been in negotiations with management for almost two years, and entered federal mediation in mid-September. After weeks of face-to-face sessions with the federal mediator, management still insists that it can’t afford to help pilots keep up with the rising cost of living, even though the airline was profitable in 2007, is expected to make a profit for 2008, and recently agreed to acquire up to $4 billion in new Airbus aircraft.
The pilot group is working under the terms of a concessionary agreement ratified in 2005, when Ranch Capital bought a majority stake in Hawaiian and demanded pilot concessions before it would take the still-profitable airline out of bankruptcy.
“Every time management came to us for help, we stepped up. We put our negotiating schedule on hold to work with management on new equipment language for the Airbus purchase. We waived some of our work rules to help management beef up our schedule and fly additional hours when Aloha and ATA went out of business. Now it’s management’s turn to step up, and if they don’t, we will use every tool available to us to win the contract we deserve,” Sampson said.
“We want Mr. Hirschfield, HAL CEO Mark Dunkerley and the other Ranch Capital board members to realize that the playing field has completely changed. The President of ALPA was one of several labor leaders at the White House just last week to meet with President Obama. The days when the federal government would help airline management lock their employees into unfavorable contracts for years on end is over.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 52,250 pilots at 35 airlines in the United States and Canada, including more than 400 pilots who fly for Hawaiian Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Eric Sampson, (808) 836-2572
Rusty Ayers, (847) 323-9519