Hawaiian Airlines’ pilots seek mediation over stalled contract
The union representing Hawaiian Airlines
' 420 pilots said it is seeking mediation from a national labor board on contract negotiations that have lasted more than a year and a half.
The Air Line Pilots Association International said it has filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board to help finalize a contract that expired in June 2007. Hawaiian's pilots have been flying under the same contract since the airline emerged from bankruptcy in 2005.
Either side was allowed to file for outside mediation as of a Tuesday deadline set earlier this year, said Capt. Eric Sampson, chairman of ALPA's Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council. Talks with a private mediator fell through in June after coming "very close to an agreement" Sampson said.
Under a new contract, pilots are asking for a wage increase more closely in line with inflation than the 1 percent hike offered by Hawaiian, Sampson said.
"Although we are showing profits, they are giving us doom and gloom at the bargaining table," Sampson said.
In a statement, Hawaiian refuted a claim issued by the union on Tuesday that the airline is now reporting "significant profits," and said it will pay more than $100 million in additional fuel costs this year compared to 2007.
Hawaiian said in July it swung to a profit of $1.8 million, or 4 cents a share, in the second quarter excluding a one-time $52.5 million gain from a settlement with Mesa Air Group.
"We believe pay increases are possible provided that contract provisions limiting efficiency are fixed, but it will take a more constructive negotiating approach by the union for this to happen," the company said.
The union agreed in February to allow Hawaiian to buy up to 24 new Airbus planes for a total list-price value of $4.4 billion. It has also extended the hours pilots can fly up to Federal Aviation Administration limits of 100 hours in any calendar month and 120 hours within 30 consecutive days.
The airline sought to increase pilot hours after it added a peak of 6,000 seats in immediate response to the shutdown of Aloha and ATA airlines this spring. Since June, the company has hired 53 additional pilots and recalled pilots on furlough, Sampson said.
This year, Hawaiian is increasing its interisland fleet of Boeing 717s to 15 with the addition of four planes.
Sampson said talks will continue until the union is assigned a National Mediation Board mediator, which may not happen until early next year. The union gave Hawaiian its last contract proposal in August, he said.