Monday, December 27, 2004


Joshua Gotbaum

Executive set to leave
bankruptcy far behind

Joshua Gotbaum was a latecomer to the Hawaiian Airlines bankruptcy process.

Ten who made a difference

The Star-Bulletin recognizes 10 individuals who have changed Hawaii this year
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But the second court-appointed trustee is in the forefront now as the company prepares to emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization early next year.

Criticized by some for stretching out the reorganization for nearly two years, Gotbaum was rewarded for his tenacity in August when he attracted what many insiders thought was an unlikely reorganization plan.

He induced investors group RC Aviation LLC to offer a virtually unheard-of 100 percent repayment to unsecured creditors, as well as full value to parent company Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s shareholders. Only the airline's aircraft lessors, such as Boeing Capital Corp., will not be receiving full value for their claims.

Gotbaum and the airline's unsecured creditors' committee jointly submitted the reorganization plan with RC Aviation, which is headed by new Hawaiian Holdings Chief Executive Lawrence Hershfield.

"Hawaiian's bankruptcy may be the first ever in the airline industry that ends with creditors receiving payment in full for their claims," Gotbaum said. "It is a testimony to the hard work both of Hawaiian Holdings and the more than 3,300 people who make up the airline."

Mostly under Gotbaum's watch, the airline ran off a string of 17 consecutive months of operating profits -- starting with the first month after the March 21, 2003, bankruptcy filing -- before rising fuel costs led to operating losses for the past three months.

Gotbaum, an investment banker and airline consultant, assumed control of Hawaiian Airlines on July 6, 2003, about three weeks after John Monahan resigned due to medical reasons. Gotbaum previously was chief executive of the September 11th Fund, a charity established to meet the needs of victims, families and communities after the terrorist attacks.

Monahan, now the president and chief executive of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, had been appointed to replace Hawaiian Airlines CEO John Adams, who was removed for alleged financial improprieties.

Gotbaum still must reach contracts with the airline's pilots, flight attendants and mechanics before a Jan. 25 hearing that will determine if the airline leaves bankruptcy behind.

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