Aloha Employees Rally, Thank Lawmakers

Patti Smart
Patti Smart
John Floyd
John Floyd
Sen. Rosalyn Baker
Sen. Rosalyn Baker

HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) -- Aloha Airlines employees take their message to the streets Friday afternoon. A major rally at the state Capitol is generating strong support for the local airlines. It's an effort by its employees to show lawmakers and the people of Hawaii that Aloha is worth saving.

Aloha employees say the purpose of the rally is to thank lawmakers for stepping in, and to show the people of Hawaii, Aloha wants to stay in business.

A sense of solidarity by Aloha Airlines employees and a show of support from the community

"Today is overwhelming to see the employees come down to show that they love each other," said Patti Smart, a former Aloha Airlines fight attendant who retired last year after 50 years of service. "They love the state of Hawaii."

For many employees, Aloha is a part of their ohana

"Me and my wife got married the same day I got hired and it's been a great way of life. We love it" said Capt. John Floyd, an Aloha Airlines pilot who has worked for the company for 21 years.

After last week's bankruptcy filings, employees don't know what their future holds.

"We'd like somebody to buy us if we can or get loan or whatever," said Joanne Hirata, a 40-year Aloha Airlines employee. "At least to get over this slump whatever we're in right now."

Lawmakers are stepping in pushing through two key bills that could help Aloha.

"Both of these bills, excise tax on jet fuel and considering the loan guarantee bill on Tuesday, will give confidence in people that we can get something quickly for Aloha Airlines," said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-South and West Maui, Kapalua, Kaanapali.

And employees are grateful.

"They know that when we started our airlines, it was called PPA. It was called The People's Airlines," said Smart. "It was started primarily for the people of Hawaii, so by helping us out, they're helping out every single island, every single community."

"We all think Aloha's worth saving," said Capt. Floyd. "They've been around for a long time and we want to say a big mahalo for helping us out."

And with strong support from their customers, Aloha employees remain hopeful.

"The support of the community as they pass by is overwhelming," said Smart. "And God will make a way. He always does."

Aloha employees are planning another rally on Monday. That one's going to take place in front of the bankruptcy court building at one o'clock.

The excise tax on jet fuel bill will go to the full Senate on Monday. The Senate Ways and Means Committee will hear the loan guarantee bill on Tuesday.