Hawaiian Airlines says more furloughs could come if pre-travel testing program is extended again

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A total of 2,501 jobs were cut from Hawaiian Airlines.

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One thousand eight hundred and fifty Hawaiian Airlines contract employees accepted voluntary packages for retirement or extended leave, while 466 were laid off.

Hawaiian Airlines said more furloughs could be on the way if the pre-travel testing program gets delayed again.

Governor David Ige announced on Sept. 16 that the date for the program will begin on Oct. 15.

Hawaiian Airlines said that the number of flights and workers it is able to keep will depend on how the rollout of the pre-travel testing program goes.

“Well, I think unquestionably, if October 15 is pushed again. I think our outlook for next year, next summer will deteriorate,” said Hawaiian Airlines chief operating officer Jon Snook. “We’ll probably end up having to furlough more people and we’ll be an even smaller airline next summer.”

Snook said each delay of the pre-travel testing program has been a hit to the business.

At the end of July, the company had 7,447 employees. The carrier projects that number to be 4,946 at the beginning of October.

“Candidly, I suspect there may be more reductions that we need to do because we’re still away from October the 15th,” said Snook. “But I think it’s going to be a small fraction of what we’ve done previously.”

While Hawaiian Airlines is not expecting to see an immediate bump in bookings, Snook said they are hopeful that they will build back up.

The airline is looking at restoring some of the routes to and from the mainland.

“North America–we’re certainly going to be adding back service, and we’ll be watching the bookings over the next few days to determine where we’re best putting capacity most quickly,” said Snook.

Airlines across the U.S. have been able to receive CARES Act funding, provided they do not lay off employees through Sept. 30. That is also the date when this financial aid will expire.

However, federal assistance can only go so far, and that is why aviation expert Peter Forman said that reopening travel in October is critical.

“The airlines have been getting a lot of help from the federal government, up through the end of September. But after that point, unless there’s a, you know, an extension to that rule, they’re going to be really hurting. So, it’s extremely important, particularly for local airlines,” said Forman.

He expects that many will want to travel to Hawaii once the pre-testing travel program is established and if Hawaii can market itself as a safe place.

“So as soon as they feel it’s safe. We’re going to get lots of people want to travel,” said Forman.

Hawaiian Airlines said it is working with other airlines to get Congress to approve an extension for CARES Act funding so it won’t have to add furloughs and can continue to keep workers employed.

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