A Hawaiian A330 flies above scenic Tunnels Beach on the north shore of Kauai.
Hawaiian Airlines experienced another year of growth and profitability, and the pilot group looks forward to the airline’s same upward trajectory in 2019.
“Working for a highly profitable company the past six years has been enjoyable,” said Capt. Hoon Lee, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chair. “In fact, we’re glad to see—and share in—the level of success the airline has experienced. We continue to wish the company success but not at the expense of the pilots.”
The pilots’ contributions to the airline helped place Hawaiian at record profit levels—results that have topped Wall Street expectations. Due to its profitability, the company continues to upgrade its fleet. Aging B-767s are being replaced, and the airline has taken delivery of its first A321neos. In 2018, the company announced its intent to purchase B-787-9s, which allowed the MEC to negotiate a letter of agreement for the introduction of the aircraft type. Aircraft deliveries are anticipated to start in the first quarter of 2021.
The MEC is also closely watching the company’s recent announcement of its intent to enter into an antitrust-immunized joint venture agreement with Japan Airlines for some transpacific flying. This matter is currently pending before the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Any joint venture must work to the benefit of the Hawaiian pilot group, and not just Hawaiian shareholders,” said Lee.
Remaining unified and engaged, the pilots were awarded—for the second year in a row—the J.J. O’Donnell Trophy for Excellence in Political Action, which recognizes the pilot group that led ALPA in contributions and commitment to ALPA-PAC over the past year. With the highest PAC participation of all of ALPA pilot groups, the pilots of Hawaiian Airlines remain committed to protecting the profession through engagement with state and federal government officials in Hawaii and Washington, D.C.
The MEC’s Grievance Committee continues to spend a great deal of time enforcing the current contract, mediating and arbitrating the backlog of grievances pilots file to hold the company accountable. “With almost 200 grievances in 2017 and more than 120 grievances in 2018, the MEC continues to fight and defend against any contract violations that occur,” remarked Lee.
The airline currently has 815 pilots on its seniority list (with the expectation of reaching 1,000 pilots by 2020) and 65 aircraft. Several new routes were announced in the last quarter of 2018, with the most recent announcement of a nonstop Boston, Mass., route that is slated to begin in spring 2019.
“Overall, we feel fairly good about where we are today,” acknowledged Lee. “After years of working under a contract that was almost 50 percent below average industry pay, our pilots now have an agreement that, if followed by the company, will treat them fairly.”