Sunday, January 13, 2002


Hawaiian Airlines
employee group forms
to oppose merger

By Lyn Danninger

A group of Hawaiian Airlines employees, calling themselves Citizens for Competitive Air Travel, has organized in the past week to oppose the merger of their airline with rival Aloha Airlines.

The group, including gate agents, flight attendants, pilots and mechanics, says it will likely file a lawsuit in an attempt to block the merger.

A class action lawsuit opposing the merger has already been initiated by another group, Crandon Capital Partners, described in the court filing as a group of Hawaiian Airlines shareholders. That suit was filed Friday.

Citizens for Competitive Air Travel is in the process of gathering information and forming committees to deal with various aspects of the merger, said a spokesman for the group, Richard Rogers, a captain with Hawaiian Airlines.

Rogers said his group, so far made up of mostly of Hawaiian Airlines employees, has already been approached by individuals and consumer groups interested preventing the merger.

The group will meet again this week to take stock of the situation and assess what to do next, Rogers said.

"Our primary goal right now is to alert the public to the inconveniences and hazards that they will face if this merger goes through," he said.

Rogers said the group is working on a petition and will also make its concerns known to lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session.

Among the group's concerns is that, with Aloha Airlines apparently the financially weaker of the two airlines, much of the money being used to finance the merger is flowing out of Hawaiian Airlines coffers, he said.

Rogers said he does not believe that Aloha would go out of business without the merger.

"At Hawaiian, we pulled ourselves out. They have a good safety record, employees, excellent customer relations and a good solid following," he said.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Keoni Wagner said the company has been working hard to get as much information as possible to employees about the merger.

"The company has been working with (incoming CEO) Greg Brenneman to schedule as many informational meetings as we can schedule and we are doing our best to give all employees opportunities to hear directly from the principles in this deal and open up dialogue, Wagner said.

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