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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

Aloha plans comeback this month

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Aloha Airlines said it plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection this month after a federal judge approved a modified version of its reorganization plan yesterday.

David Banmiller, Aloha's chief executive officer, said the airline will come out of bankruptcy better capitalized and with little debt.

"This company will be stronger than it has ever been," Banmiller said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris yesterday approved an amended reorganization plan, which calls for a $2.2 million investment from a group that includes local developer Stanford Carr, Island Holdings Co. and real estate and media executive Duane Kurisu.

They join California billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies and former NFL star Willie Gault, who agreed to invest an additional $10 million in Aloha, raising their overall investment to about $110 million.

Faris' ruling came several hours after Aloha reached a definitive agreement with the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. that will allow Aloha to terminate the defined-benefit pensions for about 3,000 of its employees.

The airline was set to emerge from Chapter 11 protection on Dec. 15 but the date was pushed back after the PBGC challenged the airline's plan to terminate workers' pensions.

Founded in 1946, Aloha is the state's second-largest airline, with more than 3,400 employees. The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in December 2004 after fuel costs and other expenses soared.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.