Hawaiian Pilots Ratify Contract, Clearing Way to End Bankruptcy

HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaiian Airlines pilots have ratified a new three-year labor agreement, the final hurdle for the carrier to emerge from bankruptcy protection, airline and union officials said Tuesday.

All six of Hawaiian's unions have negotiated new contracts, a condition for the carrier to exit from its two-year-old bankruptcy reorganization.

The pilots' contract includes a 1 percent pay raise in each year of the plan, increased per diem and miscellaneous work rule improvements, according to the Air Line Pilots Association.

Of the 258 pilots who voted, 73 percent approved the contract that is effective June 1. Ninety-two percent of eligible pilots participated in the ratification ballot.

In March, the membership rejected a previous agreement, which delayed the bankruptcy proceedings and caused Hawaiian's management to file a motion seeking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris to impose a contract on the pilots.

Hawaiian trustee Joshua Gotbaum said in contrast with agreements negotiated elsewhere in the airline industry, the pilots' new contract includes pay raises. It also includes productivity improvements to offset the costs of benefit and pay increases.

Gotbaum said a date to leave bankruptcy has not been set.

On March 10, Faris selected the reorganization plan submitted by Gotbaum, an unsecured creditor's committee and investment group Ranch Capital LLC, the controlling shareholder of the carrier's parent company Hawaiian Holdings Inc.

Hawaiian, the nation's 12th-largest carrier, filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2003. Since then, Hawaiian has restructured its aircraft leases and negotiated new labor contracts with its unions.