Hawaiian Airlines warns 2,000 could be laid off this fall

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaiian Airlines could slash more than a quarter of its workforce this fall. Unions representing the airline’s divisions were notified that more than 2,000 airline employees could be laid off within 60 days.

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“That does not mean we’re going to have 2,000 layoffs months from now,” airline President & CEO Peter Ingram told KHON2. “What that means is that if people are at risk of being laid off in this reduction, we name them in there. If we can offset that by voluntary programs, that will reduce that number. If demand starts to improve and we don’t feel the need to shrink that much, we can reduce that number.”

Ingram told KHON2 today the notices listed about 25 percent of pilots and 35 percent of all other staff — flight attendants, airport workers, mechanics and dispatchers. Hawaiian Airlines currently employs about 7,500 people, about 850 of them are pilots.

“It’s really a heavy time for all of us,” Ingram said. “But we’ve got to think about what we need to do to preserve the company so that we are going to be able to survive this pandemic and make sure we’re in a position to employ people for generations beyond this and serve our guests in the future.”

He says federal aid that covered 85 percent of labor costs since April runs out in September.

“If something is going to happen to help us and other airlines, it’s going to have to happen in the discussions that are going on in the next couple of weeks before the August recess in Washington on the current pandemic relief that’s being considered by the House and Senate,” Ingram said.

The airline has not sought state aid, but they want the governor to expedite the travel-pre-test protocols, currently delayed from an initial August rollout until at least Sept. 1.

“I think that is maybe the single biggest thing that can happen to allow us to realize some demand and allow our business to function going forward so we can try to avoid these job reductions,” Ingram said. “Let’s get those protocols defined, let’s lay it out in a way that makes it accessible for people to be able to travel and preserve the health and safety of everyone here in Hawaii.”

The pilots’ union says they recently negotiated options for leaves of up to two years, plus early retirement options, all of which could cut back on involuntary layoff numbers. The flight attendants’ union said they are pushing Congress to extend labor aid through March 2021.

“The Association of Flight Attendants is working with the company to come to an agreement on an early-out package, and our contract has provisions requiring them to offer other voluntary options which we are hoping will help to offset the impact of an involuntary furlough,” said Joni Kashiwai of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “We are also working towards an extension of the CARES Act which would avert layoffs through the end of March 2021.”

“We have negotiated a variety of voluntary short-term leaves and given pilots the opportunity to reduce their monthly flying hours in order to save on payroll costs,” said Capt. Larry Payne, chairman of the Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “According to the company, voluntary furloughs and leaves taken by pilots and other employees should save the airline $45 million by the end of September.”

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