Flyin' high


POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hawaiian Airlines President and Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley's total compensation in 2008 jumped 42 percent over the previous year to nearly $3.3 million, including a $236,250 bonus, as the company fared considerably better than many of its mainland counterparts that cut flights and employees to deal with the slumping economy.

The 45-year-old Dunkerley's compensation placed him fourth among the highest-paid CEOs last year at Hawaii's publicly traded companies, behind Alexander & Baldwin's Allen Doane ($5 million) and Central Pacific Financial's retired Clint Arnoldus ($5 million), and Hawaiian Electric Industries' Connie Lau ($3.9 million). Maui Land & Pineapple's retired David Cole was fourth ($2.8 million) and Bank of Hawaii's Al Landon ranked fifth ($2.5 million).

Hawaiian Airlines ended 2008 with net income of $28.6 million, which included a $52.5 million legal settlement with Mesa Air Group, parent of go!. Hawaiian had sued the Phoenix-based carrier for using proprietary information that Mesa had gathered in 2004 when it was a potential investor during Hawaiian's 26-month bankruptcy.

The Honolulu-based carrier's earnings were a sharp contrast from the nation's top carriers, which lost millions and, in some cases, billions of dollars.

“;By almost any measure, Hawaiian's performance in the face of enormous challenges in 2008 was remarkable,”; Hawaiian Chairman Lawrence Hershfield said in a statement.

“;In a year when record fuel prices and the onset of recession led to large losses at most airlines, and forced other companies out of business or into bankruptcy, senior management made the right decisions and Hawaiian ended the year stronger than it started, to the benefit of all its employees, customers and shareholders.”;

Dunkerley received a base salary of $583,182—up 6 percent from $550,000 in 2007—while his bonus boosted his full-year compensation nearly $1 million higher than the approximate $2.3 million he earned in 2007, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nearly 50 percent of Dunkerley's compensation was in the form of deferred shares and options—most of which have little or no immediate value.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Ingram also cracked the $1 million threshold with a total compensation of $1.1 million, up nearly 45 percent from the $785,490 he made the year before. His base salary rose 8.6 percent to $330,000 from $303,750. Ingram also received a bonus last year of $75,600.

The executive pay increases came at a time when the company is negotiating new contracts with its labor unions. The Association of Flight Attendants ratified its contract earlier this year, but the Air Line Pilots Association and the Interna- tional Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are still negotiating.

Capt. Eric Sampson, chairman of ALPA's Hawaiian Airlines unit, said he was upset that the company is rewarding its top executives at the expense of the employees.

“;The bonuses and pay raises don't come as a surprise, but the amount does because it's so high,”; Sampson said. “;And they still claim they can't give us an adjustment to cost of living in the form of a pay raise and bring a close to negotiations.”;

Sampson said the pilots are seeking less than a 5 percent wage increase, which includes having no pay raise for the last two years when the sides have been in contract negotiations.

“;The $33,000 increase (Dunkerley) gave himself in base pay is almost equal to what our junior pilots make for the entire year,”; Sampson said. “;We know he wants flat costs in exchange for raises—we can buy whatever raise we want with the benefits we have—so we wonder what expenses he cut elsewhere in the airline to pay for his own raise. He's keeping us flat, but upper management is rewarding themselves with profits the company is making.”;