Business As Usual for Aloha Airlines

David A. Banmiller
David A. Banmiller

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has given Aloha Airlines the legal protection it needs to honor all existing reservations, book new flights and keep its employees. But the order is only valid through the end of this month.

Aloha Airlines will then go back to court for final hearings on fees. The future of the company after that remains up in the air. Aloha's CEO David Banmiller came out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday with the approval needed to continue operating as usual.

"It's frustrating but I'm an optimistic person because everyday when you wake up you have two choices. Be happy or sad. I choose happy," said Banmiller.

The court order allows Aloha to arrange cash collateral financing with its lenders so it can continue to pay for operating costs, at least until the end of the month. That's hopeful news for the airline's 3500 employees, some who've already suffered blows from Aloha's financial problems.

"Several of our pilots lost their pensions, lost their retirement which they worked their entire lives for," said Randall Cummings, a pilot for Aloha Airlines.

Banmiller blames record-high fuel costs, and go! Airlines below-cost fares for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"When you're in the midst of a fare war where somebody is irrationally pricing the product you got a couple of choices. You match or you don't. You don't, you risk not getting enough traffic. You match and you risk getting the kind of numbers that we're seeing," said Banmiller.

"The only part of Aloha that is not making money is inter-island passenger business and that's because of the competition with go!," said Cummings.

Aloha executives say they are now in talks with potential investors in hopes a buy-out will help the airline bounce back from its second bankruptcy in just over two years.

Aloha Airlines has not revealed whether it plans to sell all or just a part of the company.