Heads up! If you’re headed to Hawaii there is a potential for a strike at the State’s largest airline, Hawaiian. Negotiations for a new pilot contract have been ongoing for about a year now, and with little progress made, the Air Line Pilot Association (ALPA) is getting impatient, so Hawaiian pilots will vote on strike authorization. The strike authorization vote is expected to begin on April 25 and run through May 17. Even if a strike is authorized, it wouldn’t happen immediately. The National Mediation Board would first have to release ALPA and Hawaiian from mediation and offer binding arbitration. If either party rejects, then a 30-day cooling-off period would commence. After the 30-day window, ALPA could begin a strike and/or Hawaiian could institute a lockout.
While a strike may seem extreme, especially for what are generally the highest paid employees of an airline, Hawaiian is raking in the dough! And despite 2015 was the airlines most profitable year EVER, with a net profit of $182.6 million, they continue to give the pilots a hard time in negotiations. Sources report that Hawaiian management is seeking to actually diminish pilot benefits, like negatively changing their vacation benefits. Further, Hawaiian’s captains are some of the lowest paid among U.S. legacy carriers. At their current rates, a 12-year veteran makes $207,000, which is nearly about a third of what a comparable captain at UA would earn. So it’s easy to see why Hawaiian’s pilots think the company is being unfair.
Any possibility of a strike is unnerving for sure, especially when a carrier like Hawaiian is the sole service provider are certain routes. But the possibility of a strike is still fairly remote, and there is a good amount of time that must pass before a strike can commence. Fortunately, Island Air is expanding it’s service once again, providing an alternative for those that are concerned about the possibility of a strike. My opinion? It isn’t worth changing your travel plans at this point, but it is a good idea to be mindful of your options. I’ll be posting updates regarding this situation as they become available.