HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Airlines' newly-announced COVID-19 testing program is about balancing Hawaii’s economy and protecting public health, the carrier’s CEO told HNN.
On Friday, Hawaiian Air announced it will provide drive-thru testing at labs near Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports starting Oct. 15. The testing, in partnership with Worksite Labs, gives travelers the option of paying $90 for results within 36 hours or $150 for same-day results.
Hawaiian Air CEO Peter Ingram said the partnership comes as he sees “momentum building” for the airline.
The carrier’s testing will coincide with the launch of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program, which will allow visitors to avoid a 14-day quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of landing.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green is heading the state’s pre-travel testing program and says the Hawaiian Airlines-Worksite Labs partnership has the state’s approval. Ingram said the program uses the “gold standard” for tests.
Hawaiian Air added that its program does not offer mail-in testing, which is being offered by United Airlines but was rejected by the state as acceptable for the pre-travel testing program.
That’s because the swabbing would not have been witnessed by a medical professional.
Hawaiian Airlines has seen its profits plummet amid the pandemic and Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine for all trans-Pacific travelers.
In July, Hawaiian Airlines warned of 2,000 union employee layoffs, but that number has been cut down.
“Because of other employees accepting voluntary separation packages or voluntary leave programs, we’ve been able to bring that number way down to 400 and 500 people scheduled now to be furloughed on October 1,” said Ingram.
Aviation expert Peter Forman says the testing developments and fewer layoffs mean the airline could ramp up faster. He believes travel to Hawaii could burst open once there’s a vaccine.
“I think we are going to be surprised by how many people are going to come here,” said Forman.
“So we find out if there’s any bugs in the system and get it all squared away so when the big rush comes, Hawaii is ready for it,” he added.