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Hawaiian Airlines faces uncertain future amid the coronavirus crisis

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram
Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram, whose company is the state’s largest private employer, said the airline will try to avoid involuntary layoffs.

Honolulu, HAWAII — As Hawaii’s hotel and restaurant sector reels from Gov. David Ige’s announcement of a 14-day quarantine for tourists visiting the islands, Hawaiian Airlines, the state’s largest and perhaps most important single travel-related company, also faces enormous uncertainty.

Like the rest of the tourism industry, the airlines have been battered. Passenger traffic into Honolulu has already dropped dramatically, according to data from the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

At a news conference with Ige and other officials at the State Capitol on Saturday, Hawaiian Airlines’ chief executive, Peter Ingram, predicted Ige’s move now will all but shut the flow of visitors to the islands.

“I don’t think there’s much appetite for 14 days in a hotel,” Ingram said, adding that people come to Hawaii to spend time outdoors.

The company is doing everything it can to avoid mandatory furloughs, according to Ingram.

Still, labor costs aren’t the only expenses facing the state’s largest private employer. In the short term, the company has some $485 million in contractual obligations, including about $70 million in debt payments and $177 million in aircraft purchase commitments, according to the company’s annual report for 2019.

Hawaiian shares have lost more than 60 percent of their value as the crisis has unfolded dropping from more than $30 a share to less than $9.

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat