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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

500 ex-Aloha workers now at Hawaiian

By Alan Yonan Jr.
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaiian Airlines has hired about 500 former Aloha Airlines employees since the latter shut down two years ago, and the number continues to grow as the state's largest airline moves ahead with expansion plans.

"We still see a lot of former Aloha employees," said Mark Dunkerley, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Holdings Inc., in an interview yesterday. "We certainly encourage them to apply. There is definitely sentimental hope among everyone at Hawaiian to help out former Aloha employees."

About 1,900 Aloha Airlines employees lost their jobs when Hawaiian's main competitor went out of business March 31, 2008, due to soaring fuel prices and a costly fare war initiated by go! airlines' June 2006 startup.

Of the roughly 1,000 employees Hawaiian has hired in recent years, about 500 are former Aloha workers, he said. Hawaiian's total workforce currently stands at about 4,000, Dunkerley said.

Hawaiian plans to add 10 new long-range Airbus A330-200 aircraft through 2014, the first of which will be delivered at the end of this month. A second will come in May and a third in November. The airline is hiring 45 flight attendants and 10 pilots for each aircraft, Dunkerley said.

"The number of applications we've received is overwhelming," he said. The airline recently advertised for "a couple of dozen" flight attendant positions and received 2,500 applications, Dunkerley said.

Many of the new pilots needed for the expansion were hired at the end of last year and are undergoing training, Dunkerley added.

Hawaiian will take 200 employees to Toulouse, France, during the last week of this month for a ceremony at which it will take delivery of the first Airbus, Dunkerley said. The plane's first commercial flight is tentatively scheduled for early June.

Hawaiian hopes to use its new A330-200s for routes it is seeking between Honolulu and Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Hawaiian has applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation for two of four new Haneda routes that are being offered to U.S. carriers.

Dunkerley said he expects the DOT to announce its decision between now and the end of May. If it succeeds in its bid, Hawaiian would begin flights in October.

Other carriers bidding for the routes are Delta, American, United and Continental airlines. Of the four, Hawaiian is the only one that doesn't now fly to Japan.

Hawaiian also announced yesterday that it received the top spot for the second consecutive year in a quality ratings study that looks at air carriers in terms of on-time performance, baggage handling, denied boardings and customer complaints.

Hawaiian beat out 17 other carriers in the 20th annual Airline Quality Rating study by researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University.

Hawaiian was best of all airlines in on-time performance, and was second-best in fewest denied boardings and fewest mishandled bags in 2009, the study said.

The full report is available online at www.aqr.aero.

Shares of Hawaiian Holdings closed up 9 cents at $7.26 yesterday on the Nasdaq market.