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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 6:07 p.m., Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lingle asks court to delay Aloha passenger service shutdown

Advertiser Staff

Gov. Linda Lingle today asked the court not to allow the Aloha Airlines passenger service shutdown right away. Here is the statement by her office:

Gov. Linda Lingle today announced that the state, through its bankruptcy counsel, will ask the bankruptcy court not to allow the shutdown of Aloha Airlines' interisland and transpacific flight operations until Aloha has shown it has exhausted all possible avenues for continuing its operations.

The state will also ask the court that Aloha Airlines be required to provide sufficient time and proper notification to employees of the shutdown and that all additional steps be taken to protect the interests and rights of Aloha employees given Aloha's notice today that it will cease airline passenger operations at end of business, March 31, 2008.

The state will also seek to have Aloha provide its financial information to the court to determine whether the shutdown is in fact necessary.

Gov. Lingle has also activated a Rapid Response Team to assist the approximately 1,900 employees that could lose their jobs as a result of Aloha Airlines' decision to discontinue operations of its interisland and transpacific passenger service.

"We are deeply disappointed that Aloha Airlines has made the decision to cease operations of their interisland and transpacific passenger flights," said Gov. Lingle. "Our main concerns are threefold first and foremost the 1,900 employees and their families, the need for continued air service for our residents and visitors, and protection of the state's long-term fiscal and economic interests.

"The state has activated our multi-state agency Rapid Response Team to assist employees on O'ahu, Maui, Kaua'i and in Hilo and Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

Over the coming days, the Rapid Response Team, led by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, will survey workers to evaluate their job skills and determine what type of job placement assistance might be needed.

The Rapid Response Team will also discuss available benefits and programs, including unemployment insurance, health insurance coverage, job placement services and training opportunities.

"Aloha Airlines employees, some of whom have multiple family members working for the company, have sacrificed a lot for the company through the years. They have been loyal and dedicated in providing quality service to their customers and they have been an important part of our community for generations. Their dedication to excellence has allowed Aloha to be recognized as one of the nation's best airlines in on-time service. We fully understand the urgency Aloha's decision has created for the employees and their families, and we will do everything we can to assist the employees during this very difficult time," said Lingle.

"Besides working to help the employees and their families, the state is doing all we can to coordinate with our travel industry partners to ensure that any interisland and transpacific passenger service disruption is minimized," she said.

Lingle said state officials have been working with other airlines to increase their capacity to accommodate interisland customers, including adding flights. The Administration also is working with airlines to provide continuity of service to residents and visitors for transpacific air travel as well as offer assistance with processing passengers at the airports.

In addition, the Administration is coordinating with hotels to provide accommodations to passengers that are in the islands in case they cannot get a confirmed air seat on another carrier to fly home. Travel providers including travel agents and wholesale tour companies are also being provided with information they can share with their customers.

"Everyone is pulling together during this very difficult time. We appreciate Hawaiian Airlines, hotel operators, and the visitor industry in general, for coming to the aid of Aloha's ticketed passengers," said Lingle.

The state will continue to provide updated information for affected visitors on various state and industry Web sites, including:

Primary site: Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau: www.gohawaii.com/alohaairlines

Kaua'i Visitors Bureau: www.kauaidiscovery.com

Maui Visitors Bureau: www.visitmaui.com

O'ahu Visitors Bureau: www.visit-oahu.com

Big Island Visitors Bureau: www.bigisland.org

Hawai'i Tourism Authority: www.hawaiitourismauthority.org

Gov. Lingle: www.hawaii.gov/gov

HVCB's call center will have all the information available as well: 1-800-GO-HAWAII.