Step off the aircraft to be greeted with ardent salutations and adorned with the essence of tropical orchids and in an instant you will understand Aloha, experience Kokua and know Ohana. But what you won't realize until you speak with the people who live and work in Hawaii; this is not just a way of welcoming visitors, but a way of life.
Initially, this article with Ken Best, Aloha's vice president, cargo and contract services, was going to be about Aloha Airlines and its significance to the state of Hawaii. However, having had the opportunity to also meet with Tom Anusewicz, executive vice president of Bradley Pacific Aviation and Neil Takekawa, president of Island Air, I learned that one of the key elements in ground support and aviation in Honolulu is the importance of cooperation and the feeling of family among everyone.
A History Connected
For more than 35 years Aloha Airlines, formerly Trans-Pacific Airlines, has been providing ground handling at the international terminal in Honolulu, cargo having been one of its predominant operations with international carriers such as China and Korean.
But according to Best, it was in 1988 that Aloha's Howard Oshita, director of contract services (now retired), came on board determined to grow contract services and capitalize on the opportunities. "Then the big change really occurred in 1999 when we took over Signature Flight Support, increasing the size of the contract service business by at least sixty percent, maybe more," states Best.
Since then there's been a steady growth as carriers reduce costs. Currently,
Aloha is the largest provider of contract aviation services in Hawaii, providing
services for more than twenty domestic and international air carriers and handling
more than 85 percent of the state's interisland
air freight business.
Part of Aloha Airgroup Inc., (parent company to Aloha Airlines) for more than fifteen years, Aloha Island Air became an independent company in May of 2004 and changed its name to Hawaii Island Air, which is locally known as Island Air. "Going forward, part of the deal was to retain every employee," proudly proclaims Takekawa. "When the transfer happened we had about 220 employees; pilots, mechanics, check-in personnel." Island Air now has 340 employees, who, because it is a smaller operation, are cross-trained. Island Air continues to work with Aloha, contracting out reservations and accounting operations.
Bradley Pacific Aviation
Bradley Pacific, a young company and primarily a fuel service operation is the into-plane agent for a good percentage of the airlines in Honolulu and the main fueler on all of the other islands. "We rolled in a trailer and hung out our shingle," claims Anusewicz. "But all of the airports are state owned and having lived here for over twenty years, knowing who to go to and how to get things done certainly helped build the foundation." According to Anuscewicz, who's been in the islands for more than 22 years and in aviation for 37, Bradley Pacific's market share has increased dramatically in the seven years it's been operating, as has the volume of direct flights to the outer islands that need to be serviced.
Aloha Airlines has four stations in contract services with its strength and home base being the state of Hawaii in Honolulu, Maui, Kona and Kauai. They currently have more than 1,200 part and full-time employees with the classification for below wing of "contract services." There are fewer above wing classification employees, known as contract service agents.
According to Best, Aloha's key services include passenger check-in, passenger services, cleaning, ramp, aircraft maintenance and cargo. "We are particularly strong in the area of ramp and cleaning. In Honolulu we are one of the top stations for Continental, which we picked up in 1997. A year ago we contracted cabin cleaning from United and just received an award."