Aloha Pilots React to Aloha Cargo's Abrupt Shutdown

John Riddel
John Riddel
John Dean
John Dean

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Potential buyers for Aloha's Cargo division provided a glimmer of hope for pilots, who want to continue working and living in Hawaii.

That evaporated Monday when Aloha's bankruptcy process went from a Chapter 11 reorganization effort into a Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding.

Monday's development basically means Aloha no longer exists as a company.

And pilots now have to start looking outside Hawaii for employment.

Former Aloha pilots are stunned, the day after Aloha shuts down its air cargo operation after its lender pulls the plug.

"It's devastating," said John Riddel, a former Aloha pilot.  "It's wreaking havoc in the homes right now of our pilots. Families are sitting down and looking at the options that are available. Do they pull up roots? Do they leave the state of Hawaii?"

Those are the questions 312 former Aloha pilots are asking themselves right now.

"Quite a few of our pilots have left and gone to international countries to try and seek employment there," Riddel said.

The attorney for the pilots association says it was quite unusual for a company to call it quits when it had two serious buyers.

"Like most of the attorneys in the room, and several have indicated, they've never seen anything like this," said John Dean, Aloha pilots union attorney.  "Judge King mentioned he has been a judge since 1975 and never in his career he has seen a case like this."

And they say, the repercussions from Aloha's collapse could be felt for years to come.

"The economic impact on our state as yet to be truly felt," Riddel said.  "It's going to be a domino effect. It's going to be devastating."

The pilots say they were more than willing to sit down with prospective bidders over the weekend.

But they say, that did not happen, and now it's too late.