State's Congressional Delegation Testify in Washington about Aloha - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State's Congressional Delegation Testify in Washington about Aloha

By Tracy Gladden

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KHNL) -- As Aloha Airline employees face uncertain futures, members of the Hawaii congressional delegation testify in Washington. The bankruptcy and closure of Aloha Airlines a week and and a half ago was the biggest layoff in Hawaii's history. The economic impacts and the fallout take center stage at a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Charles Willis, the Chairman of Island Air spoke.

"Mr. Chairman, we need your support now, this is not an Aloha-type situation but if it's not rectified, we certainly will face greater challenges in the future," he said.

Soaring jet fuel costs and unfair competition by Mesa's Go Airlines were cited by Congresswoman Mazie Hirono. She testified, the shut down of the state's tenth largest private employer is already taking a toll on Hawaii's economy.

"The danger that this closure brings to our state's economy, and the precarious financial situation faced by virtually all of our nation's airlines, I am frustrated by the lack of apparent solutions," Hirono said.

Aloha Airlines payroll exceeded $100 million, and the closure has increased the state's unemployment by an entire percentage point. Governor Linda Lingle isn't worried yet.

"We still in these conditions are going to have between 3% and 4% growth for this fiscal year was really welcome news to these agencies that are rating our bonds," Lingle said.

Senator Daniel Inouye said, "Congress must deliver on the promise of providing affordable, secure and quality air service to all Americans regardless of geographic location."

Until solutions are found, Hawaii's airline industry will continue to face chaos and uncertainty.

Senator Inouye said Congress must work on solutions at the Federal level to help the airline industry deal with its increasingly difficult future.

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