Hawaii’s largest carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, has announced that more than 2,000 employees will lose their job over the next month, as the airline struggles with subdued demand and ongoing restrictions imposed by the state government.
Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Peter Ingram sent a letter to employees noting that over 1,000 employees, mainly pilots and cabin crew, would today receive furlough notices.
Further cuts of over a thousand employees will follow in mid-September, according to Ingram.
Today’s furlough notices will include 816 flight attendants, of which 341 are involuntary, and 173 pilots, of which 101 are involuntary.
“This week we have begun involuntary separations with our non-contract employees following the acceptance of voluntary separation packages over the past few weeks,” Ingram said in a video message to employees.
“This is an incredibly painful time for our company and for all of us personally.”
Ingram added that he has experienced a number of trying times for the aviation industry during his 26 years in the sector, most of which have been spent at Hawaiian Airlines.
“But I haven’t seen anything in that time that compares to the way that this pandemic has hobbled our business,” he said.
“We’re forced to take steps now that just a few months ago were unthinkable. I’m sure for many of you there is sadness, some disbelief and anxiety for the future. I share those emotions and more.”
Ingram previously warned of impending job losses at the carrier earlier in August, and had hoped widespread involuntary redundancies could be avoided through the provision of voluntary job sacrifices and early retirements; however these clearly were not numerous enough.
The airline was reportedly one of the state’s largest employers prior to COVID-19, and was previously experiencing a long growth period. Despite the circumstances, Ingram is optimistic that the airline will recover in time.
“The airline that is of these islands will continue and those that are leaving our company are still a part of our extended ohana,” he said.
“As we move forward, I expect more than just a recovery— Hawaiian Airlines will thrive again.”