Island Air employees lost their jobs. Then they lost their health insurance

Updated: Dec. 5, 2017 at 5:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been a tough holiday season for former employees of Island Air.

As many are still looking for jobs, they've also been left without health coverage, despite the airline's promises.

Bankruptcy court documents show Island Air didn't pay its health care premiums for November or December.

"We tried to rush in the last month to see all the doctors, get all the physicals done. Now I'm hoping I don't get a bill now. It's just ongoing. Every day is something different," said Gary Ferreira, the airline's former customers service supervisor.

The airline's attorney said its creditors agreed that remaining funds could be used to cover the premiums, but because the airline didn't make those payments before filing for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee said the money could not be released.

The attorney also warned that employees may not be eligible for COBRA, a federal program that provides temporary coverage to families that lose their health benefits.

It's the latest blow for former Island Air employees, who have already been told they might not get their final paycheck.

Island Air abruptly shut down its operations on Nov. 9, leaving more than 400 employees without jobs.

About 80 of them attended a city job fair at the Dillingham Shopping Center on Tuesday, where 20 employers from different industries were looking to recruit workers.

Gary Ferreira says this is his third job fair since the airline went under.  He says there are a lot of opportunities out there, but its been difficult finding the right fit.

"Some of us with families, its hard. The options get a little bit smaller. You gotta see what's better for the family, especially for benefits," he said.

"I put in resumes, but having a hard time picking up another job," said Steven Obara, former aircraft fueler.

Many say life after Island Air has been tough, especially during the holidays.

"We have people with children -- small kids -- and they don't have enough funds for their family alone. Just because Island Air went bankrupt, we're suffering. We didn't even get our last pay check," said former ramp agent Raenae Rogers.

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