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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


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RECOGNITION

>>The Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association honored Debra Jason with the "Creative Person of the Year" award. She is the principal of Kauai-based the Write Direction, a company that specializes in writing web and direct marketing communications.

>>The Queen's Medical Center named Dr. Gerard K. Akaka outstanding physician of 2004. He is the medical director of the Queen Emma Clinics and has worked with the Queen's Medical Center since 2002.

>>The National Association of Social Workers Hawaii chapter named Janelle Young-Ogata 2004 social worker of the year in gerontology. She serves as the child and family service program supervisor.

>> The Kirby Co. awarded a Challenge of Champions "Driven to Greatness" Campaign championship winner's cup to Sal Sorbera and Ernie Materazzo. They operate a Kirby distributorship in Honolulu.

>>The Hawaii Aloha Chapter of Council of Residential Specialists awarded Janice K. Broderick the Certified Residential Specialist designation. She is a sales agent with Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties in Kailua.

>> The Sales & Marketing Executives of Honolulu honored Mark Ijiri in recognition of his achievements in sales and marketing at the Distinguished Sales & Marketing Awards. He began his career with T-Mobile Hawaii in 1998 as a retail sales coordinator and was recently promoted to assistant retail manager for the company.



HAWAII

Hawaiian Air trustee asks to reward managers

Hawaiian Airlines trustee Joshua Gotbaum is seeking Bankruptcy Court approval to institute a profit-sharing plan for managers.

Under Gotbaum's plan, managers would receive bonuses if the airline is profitable. The amount of each manager's bonus would depend on the individual's responsibilities and performance as well as the airline's profitability.

There is a gap in pay between managers at Hawaiian and at other airlines, Gotbaum said, adding that the new plan would help Hawaiian retain employees. If the court grants Gotbaum's petition, approximately 80 managers would be eligible to share $3 million in bonuses based on the company's 2003 record.

Union employees and non-contract employees have already received more than $7 million in profit sharing payments, Gotbaum said.

Conference offers mentoring

Applications are being accepted for companies wishing to make a pitch for venture capital at the sixth annual Wayne Brown Institute Investors Choice Venture Capital Conference.

The conference will take place Sept. 22-23 at the Wailea Marriott Resort on Maui. Applicants should submit a detailed executive summary, a one-page fact sheet and a non-refundable $195 fee to the institute by July 19.

A broad network of professionals and established entrepreneurs will mentor successful applicants on making their presentations. An additional fee of $500 is required of companies selected to present at the conference.

Since their inception, the conferences have raised more than $1 billion in equity capital for presenting companies. Call (801) 595-1141 for more information or visit www.venturecapital.org for submission guidelines, including a sample executive summary and fact sheet.

NATION

Pilots claim victory in legal case

WASHINGTON >> Their lawsuit was dismissed, but pilots are claiming victory in their challenge of the government's right to revoke the licenses of pilots considered terrorist threats.

During the course of the litigation, the government changed the rules to give pilots the right to challenge revocations based on suspicion of terrorist activity.

Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement that the pilots are pleased with the outcome.

"The 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude toward U.S. pilots that was embodied in the regulations, and which the government has now been forced to abandon, is simply unacceptable," Woerth said.

In March 2003, the government issued regulations that said pilots deemed security threats can have their licenses taken away without a hearing.

Hybrid owners may face repair dilemma

DETROIT >> With Ford Motor Co.'s Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle due out this summer, the automaker is training thousands of mechanics at dealerships around the country how to service them.

The fuel-efficient vehicle, which has both a traditional gas-powered motor and an electric motor, isn't vastly different from its standard Escape counterpart. But while service stations can rotate the tires, fix the brakes and change the oil, owners need to visit the dealerships for anything that requires mechanics to analyze or fix problems under the hood. And in many cases, independent auto mechanics don't want to touch hybrid vehicles.

For now, it's not an issue for most owners because warranties protect the cars for many years. But some owners fear the end of the warranty because they won't have the option of taking their car to independent auto repair shops, which typically offer lower prices for repairs than the dealerships.

California strike cuts into Kroger's earnings

CINCINNATI >> Kroger Co.'s first-quarter earnings tumbled 25 percent, depressed largely by the impact of a 4 1/2-month California supermarket strike.

Kroger said yesterday it earned $262.8 million, or 35 cents per share, for the three months ended May 22, down from $351.5 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 34 cents per share.

The strike, which ended in late February, was against Kroger's Ralphs chain as well as against stores owned by Albertsons Inc. and Safeway Inc.

WORLD

Italy to prop up struggling Alitalia

ROME >> The Italian government has agreed to guarantee a bridge loan in a bid to stave off bankruptcy at state-controlled airline Alitalia.

Alitalia shares had been suspended yesterday pending the announcement, which was made at the end of a Cabinet meeting at Premier Silvio Berlusconi's office in Rome later yesterday. "It's the first significant step to reach the important goal of restoring the finances of Italy's flagship airline," Deputy Transport Minister Mario Tassone told reporters after the meeting.

Tassone did not disclose the amount of the loan, but the Italian news agencies ANSA and AGI said it totaled $605 million.

The bridge loan is the only type of aid that might have been allowed under European Union rules. EU officials said that Alitalia could be eligible to receive rescue aid in the form of a bridge loan repayable within 12 months.

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