According to Pacific Business News, Hawaiian Air Pilots Authorize Strike by during a vote this past Tuesday. The option to strike, should talks fail, won by an overwhelming margin. Hawaiian Air’s strike vote won with nearly 99% of pilots voting yes. This doesn’t mean, however, that a strike is imminent. Before a strike can happen, however, the National Mediation Board must determine whether or not further mediation is needed. If either Hawaiian Airlines or the Air Line Pilot Association declines further mediation, a strike may commence after a 30-day cooling-off period.
The issue at hand relates to the pilots’ pay. Hawaiian Airlines has been posting record profits. In fact, like most US airlines, Hawaiian has ben making record profits. Even with this profitability, pilot pay has remained fairly stagnant for a while now, and rumor has it that the company has even been cutting back certain benefits for all employees. But what the pilots are asking for is a 52% increase in wages during the first year of it’s new contract. This would increase Hawaiian’s overall pilot compensation by $74 million.
Now I’m no airline expert, but 52% or $74 million, seems like an enormous amount of money, especially since Hawaiian’s pilot core is made of just 600 pilots. If you divide that evenly among all pilots (I know it won’t be), then that equates to $123,333 a year for every pilot. According to Hawaiian, a 12-year wide-body veteran captain makes $242,000, for 700 hours of work per year. In my opinion, this amount of increase in pay could spell trouble for the airline when oil prices go up, especially with all the debt it’s carrying thanks to its fleet renewal and expansion.
At any rate, it’s still too early to tell if a strike will happen or not. It is something to keep in mind, however, if you’re traveling to the islands soon. And I’ll be sure to post updates as they become available.