Aloha says union offer to fly is a ‘false hope’
Unions say members are willing to ferry home stuck travelers
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Aloha Airlines' pilots union offered yesterday to fly mainland-bound and Merrie Monarch travelers stranded by the abrupt shutdowns of Aloha and ATA airlines.
But Aloha said it was "dismayed" that the Air Line Pilots Association would raise "false hopes." The company said it has ended the leases for its passenger aircraft and has no more in-flight and ground support.
The union also said the company rejected the pilots' settlement proposal involving cargo operations and said that the union is willing to seek mediation before funds for cargo operations run out tomorrow.
In the meantime, Hawaiian and United airlines are the only carriers that have stepped forward to offer flights, subsidized by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, to help return an estimated 3,000 passengers stranded in Hawaii by the shutdown of both airlines.
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Aloha Airlines' pilots union urged the company yesterday to allow terminated employees to fly charter flights for travelers who have been stranded by the abrupt shutdowns of Aloha and ATA airlines.
The Air Line Pilots Association also said the company has rejected the pilots' latest settlement proposal involving cargo operations and that the union is willing to seek mediation from either the state or federal Bankruptcy Court.
Aloha's lender, General Motors Acceptance Corp., only has provided the company enough money to last through tomorrow, and said it won't commit any additional financing unless the pilots and the company reach a settlement. Aloha needs additional funding to proceed with sales of its cargo and aviation services divisions.
The union said the bankrupt carrier could improve its financial position by taking advantage of the $5 million in emergency funds that the Hawaii Tourism Authority has agreed to underwrite to encourage airlines to offer additional capacity.
ALPA said its pilots are willing to come to the airport on short notice to fly interisland or mainland charter trips. The Association of Flights Attendants also said its members would work on short notice.
"It is ridiculous that there are stranded passengers in Hilo trying to get home from the Merrie Monarch Festival, yet idle aircraft sit empty on the ramp with pilots available and willing to fly," said David Bird, chairman of ALPA's Aloha unit.
But in a news release yesterday, Aloha said the company has ended the leases for its passenger aircraft and has no more in-flight and ground-support functions, so it is unable to fly passengers.
Aloha also blasted the union for boosting people's expectations.
"Their statements are inappropriate, unrealistic, and far from the truth," Aloha said in the statement. "The pilots' offers do not help the unfortunate situation that faces the Aloha Airlines' ohana and their families, and ripples throughout the state's economy."
HTA President and Chief Executive Rex Johnson said yesterday that Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines are the only carriers that have offered flights in response to HTA's offer to underwrite part of the cost to help the estimated 3,000 visitors stranded in Hawaii and perhaps about 1,000 people on the mainland trying to get to the islands.
The first such flight, offered by United, left Friday from San Francisco, with stops in Maui and Kona. It returned from Kona yesterday and stopped in Maui before continuing to San Francisco.
Hawaiian is offering two flights next week to San Francisco. Tomorrow's Honolulu-San Francisco leg sold out yesterday and Wednesday's seats were also going fast.
Meanwhile, a stalemate on a cargo agreement could hurt the state's economy since Aloha carries 85 percent of Hawaii's cargo, as well as all the U.S. mail for Maui and the Big Island.
The union is at odds with the company over seniority rights for flying the cargo planes, furlough pay, medical coverage and job-search expenses.
"Management has responded negatively to the pilots' contract offer from (Friday) and used inflated cost figures to dismiss the pilots' assistance offer (from what normally is called for in the collective-bargaining agreement)," ALPA said.
Aloha, which already has laid off 2,050 of its 3,500 employees, said, "rather than trying to negotiate a better deal for terminated pilots, ALPA should support the company's efforts to save air cargo and (aviation) services operations and preserve more than 1,000 jobs."
Additional Flights for Stranded Travelers
Hawaiian Airlines was selling seats for two flights to and from San Francisco for passengers who are holding Aloha or ATA tickets at a special price of $200 one way.
» Honolulu-San Francisco: Hawaiian Airlines Flight 1012 departs Honolulu at 2:20 p.m. tomorrow and Wednesday and arrives at 10:15 p.m.
» San Francisco-Honolulu: Hawaiian Airlines Flight 1011 departs San Francisco at 11:35 p.m. tomorrow and Wednesday and arrives at 1:45 a.m. the following day.
The bookings on the flights returning to Honolulu were described as "light" by a spokesman. However, tomorrow's flight to San Francisco sold out and Wednesday's flight was booking up quickly.
» More information: www.hawaiianairlines.com/kokuafare or www.gohawaii.com.