After filing for bankruptcy less than two weeks ago, Aloha Airlines announced that March 31, 2008, was its last day of passenger operations. The second-largest Hawaii carrier cited an inability to generate sufficient revenue and “unfair competition” as the reasons for shutting down its interisland and trans-Pacific passenger flight operations.
The announcement and abrupt action signals the end of more than 60 years of service by Aloha and affects about 1,900 employees. The shutdown also means that ticket holders will be inconvenienced; the airline canceled Monday’s flights from Hawaii to the West Coast and between several cities in California and Nevada, and said that tickets for flights after Monday will not be honored.
However, the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau stated on its Web site that “only momentary disruption is expected,” as other carriers will be adding capacity to accommodate Aloha ticket holders. These passengers will be rescheduled on code-share partner United Airlines as well as Hawaiian Airlines and other carriers, according to the VCB. The site also advised ticket holders to make travel arrangements before arriving at the airport.
Hawaiian Airlines and go!, an interisland airline, said they will add capacity to take Aloha passengers on standby at no additional cost, but only until April 3. Customers will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Both airlines will also offer additional daily interisland seats at a special price of $49 through April 7. To qualify for standby or space-available travel, passengers must provide a paper or electronic ticket confirmation and be at the airport ticket counter on the date of travel shown on the ticket.
Hawaiian Airlines has created a link on its Web site to provide Aloha ticket holders with information. Displaced passengers can also call (877) 892-8896 to hear updated service information from Hawaiian.
Many hotels have stepped up to offer accommodations for those inconvenienced by the shutdown. For example, nine Marriott Resorts Hawaii properties are offering Aloha ticket holders half-price rates if they need to extend their stay because they can’t find a flight. The offer is valid for up to three additional nights beyond customers’ original checkout date. Marriott customers who have to cancel their reservations because of flight cancellations will not be charged a penalty as long as they rebook within one year. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Aqua Hotels and Resorts, and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts are among the other chains offering special consideration for Aloha customers.
“This is an incredibly dark day for Hawaii,” said David A. Banmiller, Aloha’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Unfortunately, unfair competition has succeeded in driving us out of business. … We realize this comes as a devastating disappointment to our frequent flyers and our loyal business partners who have supported this company for many, many years.”
While most observers agree it is too early to gauge the impact this news will have on the islands’ tourism industry, the closure comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this year that Norwegian Cruise Line's U.S. unit is cutting its Hawaii fleet by two-thirds.
For more information on cancelled flights and frequently asked questions regarding the shutdown, go to www.gohawaii.com/alohaairlines.