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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 26, 2002

United transfers local official

By Frank Cho
Advertiser Staff Writer

United Airlines has moved its top Hawai'i-based executive back to Chicago as part of a worldwide restructuring plan to cut costs and keep the carrier out of bankruptcy.

Tom Renville, managing director for United in Hawai'i, moved to the Mainland to take charge of its international airport services on Sept. 16.

The airline said Renville's departure is not expected to affect United's 19 daily flights serving Hawai'i and should not be seen as a pullback from the Hawai'i market.

"There is a bit of restructuring going on, so we are making some decisions about some realignments, but this in no way is impacting any of our flights," said Joe Hopkins, a Chicago-based spokesman for United Airlines. "Our commitment to Hawai'i, and service to Ha-wai'i, will be as strong as ever."

The airline, the largest U.S. carrier serving Hawai'i, has for years been a bellwether for the state's Mainland travel market.

But the airline has been facing a severe cash crunch because of its high operating costs and the general slump in air travel, which started before last Sept. 11 but was exacerbated by the terrorist attacks that involved two United planes.

Its new chief executive officer, Glenn Tilton, a former oil executive, has been trying to cut those costs and restructure the carrier into a leaner, more efficient airline.

Mike Navares, United's general manager for customer service in Honolulu, has assumed responsibility for the airline's operations on Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island as well as Honolulu.

"We plan to make no major changes," said Navares, who has been with the company since 1978. "With the current flights that we have, we have sufficient manpower to cover the operations."

Navares said United has about 1,200 employees statewide, including 90 recently hired reservationists. But Navares said the company's three-member sales staff, which will be moved to the Honolulu reservations office, will now report to a regional sales manager in Los Angeles.

Navares, who is already involved with the Hawaii Foodbank, said he will also assume Renville's positions on the board of the Hawai'i Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Hawai'i Chamber of Commerce.