HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaiian Airlines’ agreement with its pilots could change starting July 1. The company’s 2021 annual report said collective bargaining agreements with pilots are already underway.
“It’s a painful process and it takes a long time,” said Peter Forman an aviation expert.
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Experts have said it’s too soon to tell how negotiations will impact service, but around the nation it’s already a telling sign. Other airlines that service Hawaii like Delta Air Lines, saw pilots send open letters to customers about their frustrations while Alaska and Southwest Airlines pilots have authorized strikes.
“One of the issues that the Southwest pilots have is the airline is trying to run the airline with the least number of pilots which is economical, but it also puts pressure on the pilots,” said Forman.
Forman, who is also a former pilot, said the lifestyle seems lavish, but it can be taxing. So much so that, the Federal Aviation Administration limits pilots to working 1,000 hours a year.
“If you’re flying internationally or backside of the clock, it does take something out of — out of a person. So pilots are pretty careful as far as negotiating provisions that will give them adequate rest,” said Forman.
These negotiations come as the odds are stacked against the airlines with inflation and rising costs for labor and fuel. Hawaiian Airlines said inflation can reduce demand for travel which could negatively impact profit.
“An airline has to make money and consequently, that’s what the airlines have as their biggest negotiating leverage,” said Forman.
Another challenge for airlines — the pilot shortage across the industry.
“You really need something like university flight program to get really high quality flight instructors into the community to keep the flying nice and safe,” said Forman. “So there’s a lot of pressure here in Hawaii, because we’re simply not training enough pilots in Hawaii to meet our needs.”
To help with training, Hawaiian Airlines has expanded its pilot training facility with an addition of a flight simulator totaling four on-site devices. KHON2 reached out to Hawaiian Airlines about the negotiations and are waiting to hear back.
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For travelers, Forman said it’s something they shouldn’t sweat just yet.