Please support your local airline
ON JULY 26, Aloha Airlines celebrated the 60th anniversary of the start of its inter-island air service as a charter carrier called Trans-Pacific Airlines. Given the turbulent history of Hawaii's inter-island airlines, it is remarkable that a relatively small, privately owned airline could survive and prosper to become one of the state's biggest employers and a world-class air carrier in its own right.
This is a brilliant testament to the tens of thousands of dedicated men and women who have worn an Aloha Airlines uniform over the years and the airline's visionary leadership from Ruddy Tongg and Hung Wo Ching to the current management team headed by David Banmiller. It's also due to the millions of customers from throughout Hawaii and the world who chose Aloha Airlines because they knew they would be greeted by a warm, friendly smile.
In this 60th year of operation, the Ching and Ing families have been joined by The Yucaipa Companies and ourselves, the Aloha Hawaii Investors, LLC. We are all committed to seeing this homegrown airline thrive in Hawaii for many years to come.
Why do we remain committed to Aloha Airlines in this chaotic time of skyrocketing fuel costs and cutthroat airline-industry competition? It's because we share the dream of having a locally managed air carrier with local roots that is dedicated to Hawaii's interests and conveys Hawaii's aloha spirit to the world.
It is hard to imagine Hawaii without Aloha Airlines.
Over the decades, Aloha has been a mainstay of Hawaii's tourism-dependent and agriculture-based economy. Aloha's fleet of dedicated cargo planes carries the lion's share of U.S. mail and all manner of perishable goods that are transported between the islands all night long. We've proven over the years that we are not fair-weather friends who cut and run when times are tough. We've been here for the good times and the bad times. We've provided air lift and emergency assistance when hurricanes and disasters hit. And, like our customers, we support local companies and purchase most of our supplies and services right here in Hawaii.
Nearly all of our 3,500 employees live in Hawaii and play active roles in their communities. They volunteer in the communities, coaching kids, giving blood to the Hawaii Blood Bank and donating time and effort to myriad bake sales and food drives and charity events. It seems they never get tired of giving to make Hawaii a better place. These hard-working men and women have had to make personal sacrifices of salary and pension benefits to keep this company going. That in itself is a testimony to them and their devotion to Aloha Airlines. A good corporate citizen in its own right, Aloha Airlines expresses its pride in and responsibility to our community by helping hundreds of worthy causes, including support for Hawaii's culture and arts and nonprofit organizations in the important work they do.
If history is a guide, the next few years won't be any easier than the years we've already seen. To succeed in the challenging environment we face, local air carriers must strive to earn and retain the loyalty of Hawaii's consumers, who need stable, reliable air transportation the way other Americans need highways, railways and bridges. Please don't take us for granted. Support your local airline.
The authors, members of Aloha Hawaii Investors, LLC, are investors in Aloha Airlines.
Editor's note: Duane Kurisu and Colbert Matsumoto are also investors in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.