Local Connection: Hawaiian's CEO retiring

It was shocking to hear last week that Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley will retire next Spring after 15 years of leadership.

He came on during one of the worst periods for the airline industry in history and took Hawaiian through bankruptcy. Today it is a respected international carrier and by far the biggest airline serving Hawaii.

Mark has also been a respected community leader. Although he said his main reason for leaving was to be able to spend more time closer to his family on the east coast and in Europe, you have to wonder if frustration was part of the motivation.

As the biggest tenant of Hawaii's airports, he had to suffer a relationship with the state of Hawaii government. In the last few months he was an outspoken critic of the bureaucratic red tape that chokes airport improvements and was rife with incompetence.

He pushed unsuccessfully for a more independent airport authority, which was shot down by timid lawmakers and powerful public worker unions. He will have time to make one more pitch for that idea at the next legislature.

Hopefully the loss of a top leader of our business community will make lawmakers realize that there are costs to their resistance to new ideas.

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