Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, June 26, 2003




Hawaiian suspends Pago Pago flights

Hawaiian Airlines has temporarily suspended its service to American Samoa, after reporting damage to its Boeing 767 aircraft on the Pago Pago runway June 13 and Monday of this week. The airline cut flights it had scheduled for today and tomorrow, saying it needs to assess the condition of the Pago Pago runway and wants the Federal Aviation Administration to look at it.

Hawaiian said foreign objects from the runway entered both engines of a plane June 13, delaying its return to Honolulu for 17 hours while repairs were done. The same thing happened to a different plane Monday, delaying its return for 19 hours. Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian president, said the airline cannot afford to send another plane to Pago Pago until it is assured there won't be any damage to the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian, whose $58 million loss last year contributed to its March 21 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, earned $14.3 million, before taxes, in May, according to its monthly statement of operations filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The carrier, which lost its trustee Tuesday when John Monahan resigned, has now reduced its loss, before taxes, for the first five months of the year to $1.9 million.

On an operating income basis, Hawaiian had a gain of $15.9 million last month and is in the black for the year with a profit of $3.1 million.

Hawaiian's unrestricted cash and cash equivalents grew in May to $45.8 million from $35.9 million at the beginning of the month but still considerably below the $71.9 million it was at when the year began. The airline listed its total assets as of May 31 as $278.5 million and its total liabilities as $350.8 million.

Hotel union launches Web site

Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5, which is in contract negotiations with the 375-unit Imperial Hawaii Resort timeshare in Waikiki, has launched a Web site,, to air its contract dispute in public.

Management of the Imperial canceled the union's contract in March, affecting 58 workers, because negotiations have been going nowhere.

Along with describing the status of negotiations and the points of contention, the Web site goes on the offensive and questions whether the Imperial's board is working in the best interest of the timeshare owners. No new negotiations are scheduled, according to Local 5.

PBEC speakers focus on N. Korea

Experts on North Korea will feature prominently in the lineup of speakers for the international general meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council, to be held in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 24-26. Dalton Tanonaka, president of the Honolulu-headquartered PBEC, said the speakers will include people who have either been to North Korea or dealt with North Korean leaders in recent months.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is scheduled to open the meeting. While tension in the Korean Peninsula is the major focus of the meeting, international experts will also be there to discuss the political and economic effects of the war in Iraq and other Asia-Pacific topics.

Web firm partner wins award

The managing partner of local Web site programming and design company Wet Sand Enterprises LLC was awarded the 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year award from the National Business and Disability Council.

Dan Dorszynski, originally from Wisconsin, launched Wet Sand with partner Stewart Chong.

Over the past three years, the company has designed Web sites for more than two dozen local companies of various sizes. Dorszynski, a volunteer with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, has had muscular dystrophy since birth.

Ahold U.S. executive resigns in scandal

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands >> Dutch food supplier Ahold said yesterday the chief executive of Tops Markets, one of its U.S. subsidiaries, has resigned amid the company's U.S. accounting scandal. Ahold has been reviewing its accounting practices since it admitted in February that its U.S. Foodservice arm had overstated profits by about $880 million from 2000 to 2002.

In a statement, Ahold said Frank Curci had resigned from the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Tops chain after an internal audit revealed additional accounting irregularities of around $29 million, mostly at Tops.

May Department store chain lays off 1,500

ST. LOUIS >> May Department Stores Co. said yesterday it laid off about 1,500 workers in sales management and support positions. That's about 1.3 percent of its overall work force.

"We're adjusting the work force to keep expenses in line with sales," said Sharon Bateman, vice president of corporate communications for May. Employees were told of the layoffs on Tuesday.

The St. Louis-based company said last month that its first-quarter earnings rose $2 million, but reported a 7.2 percent decline in sales.

In other news ...

>> Federal regulators have turned from sour to sweet on a proposed $2.8 billion merger of ice cream giants Nestle Holdings Inc. and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Inc. approving the deal.

>> Charles Schwab Corp. agreed to buy the private-asset management unit of State Street Corp. for about $365 million in cash to bolster its business that caters to wealthy investors in New England.

>> American International Group Inc. agreed to buy General Electric Co.'s Japanese life insurance business and its U.S. car and home insurance unit for $2.15 billion.


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