Pacific Wings calls TSA investigations 'retaliatory'
The president of Pacific Wings alleges that four federal investigations into the airline's cargo operations and security procedures were retaliation for a recent confrontation between one of the air carrier's employees and an airport security guard.
President Greg Kahlstorf said he and his employees have received four "letters of investigation" from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's Maui and Honolulu bureaus. The letters started arriving last week, and the latest came yesterday.
The investigations could result in penalties or fines.
Kahlstorf said the head of the TSA's Maui bureau is a former colleague of one of the Wackenhut Corp. security guards involved in the November confrontation with a Pacific Wings employee at Kahului Airport.
Kahlstorf's accusation that the two men are former colleagues could not be confirmed last night.
He also said three of the investigations were based on citations issued by Wackenhut security guards.
"There's no doubt in my mind this is retaliatory behavior," Kahlstorf said, adding that the allegations are based on federal airport rules that should not apply to his carrier. "We don't believe this is appropriate by any stretch."
Sidney Hayakawa, TSA security director in Honolulu, confirmed that the investigations were ongoing, but declined comment.
A state Department of Transportation spokesman also declined comment. Wackenhut officials could not be reached last night.
In November a Wackenhut guard on Maui was banned from working on any state facility or property after the Nov. 14 confrontation, which was videotaped by Pacific Wings.
In the videotape, the guard was seen making threatening comments and spitting at the camera.
The confrontation followed a previous conflict between Pacific Wings and Wackenhut on Oct. 20. In that incident, which happened during a meeting between the two groups at the state airport manager's conference room, Kahlstorf alleged he was assaulted.
Kahlstorf and another Pacific Wings employee were charged with third-degree assault after the confrontation.