Hawaiian Airlines Issues Mandatory Furloughs for Neighbor-Island Employees

September 1, 2020, 7:30 AM HST (Updated August 31, 2020, 6:53 PM)
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Hawaiian Airlines issued non-voluntary furloughs for the first time in nearly six months since the COVID-19 pandemic caused an economic shutdown, forcing the closure of businesses and halting tourism to Hawai‘i.

The furloughs were issued, Monday, to pilots and flight attendants who live on neighbor islands and commute to Honolulu — impacting 16 flight attendants and six pilots on Hawai‘i Island. The duration of furloughs will depend on when the state reopens and travel demand returns, officials stated in an email to Big Island Now on Monday.

The furloughs are all scheduled to be effective Oct. 1. There may be some additional shifting in these numbers as voluntary leave and separation options are considered within some workgroups.

The chart provided by Hawaiian Airlines below shows a total workforce reduction of 816 for flight attendants and 173 pilots.

Courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines

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“These reductions to our teams are painful and stressful for all of us, but necessary to ensure our business survives and is poised to respond to opportunities when we are able to resume a more normal flight schedule,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram.

Ingram sent a letter to employees indicating the decision for mandatory furloughs comes on the heels of reductions to the non-contract workforce two weeks ago.

“Hawaiian Airlines is not alone in this grim reality — as the COVID-19 pandemic and Hawaiʻi’s quarantine restrictions stretched on through the summer, we all have had friends and family confronted by reduced work schedules, pay cuts, layoffs and business closures,” Ingram stated.

These reductions, Ingram explained, were calculated with the expectation that the state will reopen and more flying can be restored this year and next.

“I must caution, however, that further delays to a pretravel testing program and reopening date may require additional furloughs in the months ahead,” Ingram said.

Ingram said he is keeping an eye on the progress of an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.

“As I have noted before, we would welcome a six-month extension of the PSP on terms identical to those included in the CARES Act, as has been proposed with bipartisan support in Washington,” Ingram added.

Keeping the Hawaiian Airlines team intact through March of next year, Ingram explained, would provide more time for demand to recover and hopefully reduce the scale of workforce downsizing.

“We all have a deep connection to this airline, which has seen its share of challenges in its almost 91 years, though nothing like this,” Ingram stated. “Whether you are staying or leaving, I hope you all know you will always be a part of the Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana. And I hope our recovery will enable us to bring more of our people back soon.”

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