By Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Current and former Aloha Airlines pilots vote in favor of a strike Wednesday night at approximately 10:20pm after almost a three-hour closed door meeting. This doesn't necessarily mean they'll strike just yet, but it does mean they have it as an option, if a resolution isn't reached soon.
"It was overwhelming," said John Riddel, a 23-year veteran with Aloha Airlines and an executive board member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), a union representing Aloha pilots. "Everyone is in support of this."
Wednesday night, Aloha pilots trickled in for a crucial vote on whether or not to go on strike.
Many were tight-lipped, only saying, "No comment" as they walked in the Honolulu Country Club in Salt Lake. But some expressed optimism.
"A little apprehensive but hopeful for the outcome for the company," said Milton Davis, a pilot who worked for Aloha for several years.
"What you do hope the outcome is?" asked KHNL.
"I'm hoping we're able to save a part of the company of Aloha Airlines for the future of Hawaii," said Davis.
"I think what we want is what's best for our membership and what's best for Hawaii," said another pilot who did not want to be identified.
Almost all of the 264 pilots eligible to vote attended this closed door meeting. After close to three hours of discussion, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike.
"We do not want to go on a strike but we will not have our contract, our collective bargaining agreement completely thrown out the window," said Riddel. "We expect adherence to that, and we're going to stand by that."
The pilots union has the option to strike if talks fail with Aloha management, but for now, Aloha's air cargo service continues to operate. The pilots say they felt like they were pushed into a corner.
"This is a sad day for the history of Aloha Airlines and its pilots," said Riddel. "Sixty-one years. We have never been put in a position to have to do something like this."
They hope things get resolved through our judicial process.
"This should not have occurred and we want to make sure that due diligence has an opportunity in bankruptcy court for everything to be examined, before this thing gets shut down any further with the cargo," said Riddel.
"So, what's the message you want to send to Aloha management with this vote tonight?" asked KHNL.
"Once again, come to the table and talk to us, and respect what this pilot group has done for this airline for 61 years," said Riddel. "We want to fly airplanes; that's what we do. We want to serve the community here in the state of Hawaii. Don't force us to have to do this."