More than 2,000 Hawaiian Airlines employees are at risk of involuntary furloughs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the company’s business.
On Wednesday, Airline officials say unions representing the company’s flight attendants, pilots, maintenance, dispatch and airport operations teams were sent notifications of the potential involuntary furloughs beginning as early as Oct. 1, 2020.
“We will be sending individual letters to 2,135 members whose seniority with the unions place them at risk for furlough,” a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson stated in an email to Big Island Now on Friday. “We are hoping the number of employees involuntarily furloughed will be reduced by the number of employees who opt for early-out programs currently being offered or negotiated.”
The spokesperson said the company has negotiated an early-out package with the pilots union and the window the acceptance of those packages runs through August. Hawaiian Airlines will be negotiating with the other unions, the AFA, the IAM and the TWU.
“The fate of the economy in Hawaii is really closely aligned to the fate of Hawaiian Airlines,” Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram told Hawaii News Now.
Ingram also told HNN that the 2,000 layoff notices include 35% of the company’s flight attendants and 25% of its pilots.
“It doesn’t mean we are laying off 2,000 people. We have discussions underway to design voluntary separations, early retirement for people who may be ready for transition,” Ingram stated to HNN. “As disappointing as it is to have to put out notices like this, the reason we are doing it is because it’s what we need to do to preserve the company for the long term,” he added.
The company’s revenue has plunged over 90% year to year as the airline suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over three months, HNN reports.
Ingram told HNN that despite the financial “destruction” from the pandemic Hawaiian Airlines is nowhere near bankruptcy again.