Hawaiian Airlines To Furlough 442 Pilots And Flight Attendants

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Hawaiian Airlines announced today that it has issued notices to 442 of its pilots and flight attendants to let them know that they will be affected by the company’s workforce reduction plan. These involuntary furloughs will, not surprisingly, take effect on October 1st.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 Honolulu Airport Hawaii USA
Hawaiian Airlines could reduce its workforce by close to 30%. Photo: Getty Images

Yesterday, Hawaiian Airlines informed 442 of its pilots and cabin crew of its “intent to implement a workforce reduction plan impacting them.” The carrier is one of Hawaii’s largest employers, providing 7,299 jobs as of 2019. It had previously warned that it might need to cut as many as 2,135 jobs, including 956 from the pilots and flight attendant categories.

Painful time

While Hawaiian was not immediately available for a request for comment, in a video message to staff seen by the Star Advertiser, the airline’s president and CEO Peter Ingram said,

“This week we have begun involuntary separations with our non-contract employees following the acceptance of voluntary separation packages over the past few weeks. This is an incredibly painful time for our company and for all of us personally.”

Hawaiian-Airlines-Covid-positive-employees
Three hundred fourteen of Hawaiian’s flight attendants will be involuntarily furloughed. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

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More exact numbers

The Honolulu-based carrier has offered voluntary leave programs and separation packages to all of its work groups, including early retirement plans for eligible employees.

In an internal letter, also read by the Star Advertiser, Ingram said that the overall flight attendant workforce would be reduced by 816 jobs, 314 of which would be involuntary. The airline is also cutting 173 pilot positions, with 101 of those involuntarily as well. An additional 28 pilots are to receive notices at a later date.

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Not surprisingly, these job cuts are a part of the airline’s response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaiian said it was taking these actions to “re-balance its workforce to better align with the evolving needs of the business.”

CEO expects Hawaiian to thrive in the future

While the airline expects to be about 15% to 25% smaller by the end of next summer compared to the year before, its CEO remains optimistic about the future.

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“The airline that is of these islands will continue and those that are leaving our company are still a part of our extended ohana,” Ingram said. “As we move forward, I expect more than just a recovery – Hawaiian Airlines will thrive again.”

Meanwhile, all of the company’s officers have reduced their base pay by between 10% and 50% until September 30th, 2020, and its Board members have temporarily reduced their compensation (although by how much remains undisclosed).

Hawaiian Airlines A330 over Hawaii
The carrier was Hawaii’s largest CARES recipient. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Travel restrictions remain in place

Hawaiian Airlines was the state’s single largest recipient of CARES funding, with $654 million split into loans and payroll support grants. As anyone following US aviation knows by now, the latter is set to expire on October 1st. If Congress fails to reach a new agreement, Hawaiian will not be the only carrier to let a large part of its workforce go, as airlines will be furloughing staff in the thousands.

The carrier reported a loss of $107 million in the second quarter. Its woes are further compounded by the travel restrictions still in place for the island state. A pre-travel COVID-testing regime that could potentially open tourism back up keeps getting pushed back, and the state has extended an inter-island quarantine to September 30th.

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