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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Pilots fight plan to halt fund payment

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaiian Airlines pilots have fired back against a company move to halt a $4.25 million payment to their pension fund due on Monday by arguing that Hawaiian is not in imminent danger of folding.

The company "cannot show that making the $4.25 million payment will cause its immediate liquidation," according to documents filed by the Air Line Pilots Association, International, representing 380 Hawaiian Airlines pilots.

In its most recent operating report, Hawaiian reported $128.2 million in unrestricted and restricted cash. The pilots also argued that the pension fund dispute comes under the jurisdiction of a labor arbitration panel and not the courts.

Last week, frustrated Hawaiian pilots said their union leaders weren't doing enough to fight efforts by Hawaiian trustee Josh Gotbaum to withhold pension contributions and close pilots' bases in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"The pilots at Hawaiian have already offered up to $8 million in concessions sought by the company to help our airline weather this crisis. The pension plan is the crown jewel of our contract and we will fight to protect it," said Jim Giddings, the chairman of the pilots' Master Executive Council, in a statement.

Gotbaum argued in his original motion that Hawai'i's largest airline will not have the cash it needs to emerge from bankruptcy if it has to make its federally required pension contributions.

Gotbaum's motion also was opposed yesterday by Hawaiian's parent company, Hawaiian Holdings Inc.

Hawaiian First Officer Tony Faul, who flies out of Los Angeles, yesterday said Hawaiian does not seem to care about its pilots.

"As an employee I am losing faith," he said. "As a stock holder, I am feeling a bit deceived by their appallingly poor business ethics and practices."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8085.