Former Aloha Pilots Could Lose Out in Cargo Buyout

David Farmer
David Farmer
Jim Wagner
Jim Wagner
David Banmiller
David Banmiller

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- While Aloha Cargo employees are on the job again, former Aloha pilots could be on the losing end.

The sale of Aloha Cargo to Saltchuk Resources has yet to be approved, but if or when it does, Saltchuk plans to reject the pilot's collective bargaining agreement.

No collective bargaining agreement means Saltchuk will not honor the contracts of former Aloha pilots.

In U.S. Bankruptcy Court Thursday, the Airline Pilots Association called it an unprecedented and repulsive move.

The wheels are in motion for Saltchuk to save Aloha Cargo, but the terms of the deal do not include the collective bargaining agreement that would secure jobs for former Aloha pilots.

"There is never a time a trustee in a Chapter 7 would assume and use the collective bargaining agreement because they're out of business," said Aloha Bankruptcy Attorney, David Farmer.

The move is a low blow to the pilot's union, which has been fighting for senior pilots to land the jobs.

"Saltchuk is willing to hire pilots, it's a matter of individual pilots want to go work for Saltchuk," said Jim Wagner, counsel to the court-appointed trustee overseeing the case.

"The business is air cargo so we definitely need someone to fly those planes. If we can employ as many as those who know the route, know the business, know the fleet, boy that's definitely our goal," said Saltchuk President, Tim Engle.

Until the sale officially takes off, volunteer pilots will fly Aloha's cargo planes.

"We had two different types of people operating two types of airplanes, and it takes a while to train people, that was the seniority issue. In the meantime, we've had volunteers and people saying if i'm not in the right seniority we can accept this, so we worked that out with the operating people, and we had people ready to go tonight," said former Aloha CEO, David Banmiller.

Saltchuck wants to take over Aloha cargo by May 14th. Aloha's primary lender, GMAC Commercial Finance, has agreed to fund operations until then.

A hearing to approve the sale and to reject the collective bargaining agreements is set for May 12.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Lloyd King refused to approve the sale Thursday, saying it's unfair to give pilots such short-notice about rejection of their collective bargaining agreement.

The May 12th hearing will give pilots, and anyone else who objects to the sale, an opportunity to have a say.