Hawaiian Pilots' Huge Raise + Southwest's Big Threat Means Higher Airfares

Hawaii Airfare Takeoff: Southwest Threat + Huge Raise At Hawaiian

Are you ready for a 19% increase in Hawaii airfares? That’s the possibility we are looking at according to Airlines for America. It comes after the new 48-month pilot agreement just ratified at Hawaiian Airlines that features industry record-setting pay raises and more for their 1,000 pilots. Included is a 32.9% pay increase over the contract duration. We can’t say where this will end, but obviously, 33% raises have to be paid by someone, and that someone is all of us who buy airline tickets.

Union head Larry Payne, a pilot at Hawaiian, said, “We believe this industry-standard agreement represents a monumental step forward in terms of overall compensation and quality of life gains.”

The agreement is set to go into effect next month, with the pilots of larger A330 widebody planes generally earning more. Pay is also based on experience. Other benefits are included.

We reported on this last month, including that “Hawaiian Airlines pilots earn on average from $227/hour to $337 per hour depending on seniority and aircraft type.” So following this agreement, pilots will earn from $302 to $448 per hour, over the next four years.

Hawaiian Airlines/Amazon freighter pilots also rise to the top.

The pilots associated with Hawaiian’s soon-to-be commenced air cargo deal will also earn more than comparable pilots at either FedEx or UPS. That Hawaiian Airlines crew will operate a separate fleet of A330 widebody planes for Amazon.

Why is this deal so crucial to Hawaiian Airlines and the entire industry?

This news comes following the announcement that Delta pilots have also reached a tentative agreement featuring a huge pay increase. And just after Southwest pilots warned of a potential strike there with big consequences.

Southwest’s huge pilot troubles are up next.

The SW pilots union said, “Systemwide meltdowns at Southwest Airlines have been increasing in frequency and magnitude over the past 15 years…Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Southwest has a history of repetition. Unfortunately, despite many opportunities, Southwest airlines management did not listen to its pilots and frontline employees.”

Last month, Southwest Airlines pilots announced they are seeking a strike vote authorization to deal with long-failed contract negotiations. That voting is set to begin on May 1, and, for now, at least, the situation appears to be highly contentious.

Southwest pilots dire warning to customers.

Last month the pilots’ union said they want to “Give our customers time to book elsewhere so that they may have confidence in their summer vacations, honeymoons, and family outings.”

Contract comes at a critical time as airlines struggle to keep qualified pilots.

Like Hawaiian, Delta Airlines has been ironing out a similar contract with its pilots, and a tentative agreement has been reached. It includes a 34% pay increase, not unlike Hawaiian’s. These are in line with what’s also happening at American and United Airlines.

Recently, UAL CEO Scott Kirby said that it might be hard for airlines to fly their planned operations this year, largely due to a shortage of pilots. “For a host of reasons, we believe the industry capacity aspirations for 2023 and beyond are simply unachievable.”

It isn’t clear how such a significant pay increase will help Hawaiian in its efforts, but undoubtedly that’s a significant part of the company’s thinking.

The pilots appear to have their employers over a barrel.

The Delta union said simply of their proposed contract, “There are no concessions in this agreement.”

For the airlines, choices come down to creating greater operational efficiencies, applying cost-cutting or service-reducing measures, or continued ticket price increases. Passing it along to passengers is problematic as it comes at a time of financial pressure that has the potential to impact Hawaii’s leisure travel market significantly.


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34 thoughts on “Hawaii Airfare Takeoff: Southwest Threat + Huge Raise At Hawaiian”

  1. It’s easier to fly a plane on autopilot than drive a car. I wonder how soon this entire line of jobs will be phased out in the US.

    1. Uh…no. Autopilot is adequate for 90% of flight situations. The other 10% require real time human neural network input. Where lives hang in the balance, a human behind the controls is irreplaceable. Aloha!

      1. A little more on the subject. Non pilots have the impression that when an autopilot is on the pilots are doing nothing. The reality is the pilot is still flying the airplane. Yes the controls are being manipulated automatically. But the pilot is responsible for the correct inputs to the autopilot and staying mentally ahead of the airplane. It’s the experienced pilot that can anticipate potential trouble and react appropriately even when the autopilot is on. No pilot turns on the autopilot and then switches off mentally, experienced pilots like those at all the airlines serving Hawaii are one of the reasons flying here is so safe.

        1. John,

          Agreed. I used to own a small airplane and you have to be alert about everything.

          You’re flying a 787 at 400MPH. Look away for a minute and you are 6 miles down the “road.” You must always be aware. And you may have 200, 300 people on board – what are they up to.

          Take care,

    2. Troy, you just made a statement that proves you don’t know what is involved in flying an airliner…ask yourself why you would attack a group improving their lot in life with no downside and you really don’t know what the job involves? (properly compensated pilots is a very good thing for air travel as a whole)

  2. Here we go, just a short while ago people were on here saying they will support HA regardless (previous artivle on 39 $fares) that they support hawaii and they r for the people of hawaii. Told u then and telling u again and even their pilots show it, It,s all about the money. They r supporting hawaii just not you or i.Industry setting pay !!! Staying here in hawaii??? Even the amazon pilots getting a nice bump. HA Paying All These, nope you and i.Keep up the misguided loyalty. So to recap 39 $ fares going up and limited Now a 19 % increase in fares.Yep they r for the support hawaii just the select hawaii.

    1. Wayne, HA is simply paying their pilots a competitive wage so they can maintain a quality operation. The Amazon deal is great as it allows HA to grow and prosper and yes, compete effectively Inter Island. ($39 fares were always planned as temporary. It was simply SWA trying to break into the market) . A healthy Hawaiian is the goal. Union and management has decided this contract is what is needed going forward…of course I would support a local carrier that is making sound business decisions that assure a solid future for Hawaiian and the thousands of Hawaii based employees….

  3. Someone from SWA, not named in your article, is quoted as saying: “Give our customers time to book elsewhere so that they may have confidence in their summer vacations, honeymoons, and family outings.”

    What a traitor-fire the creep.

  4. I’m happy to pay more if it means giving the pilots a wage commensurate with their skills and the importance of their job. It’s that simple.

  5. Bring back the Ferry Boats for interisland travelers, too much dirty Politics, That killed the Ferry system, Hawaii people lose again. Oahu, look at your Mono Rail system, that’s another system will die like a Rat, too much dirty Politics. San Francisco Bay Area Mono Rail system never had problems like Hawaii, too many people wants a piece of the Pie. Another Hawaii people lose.

      1. Alfred you’re absolutely correct. I have been stating the exact thing many times. Unfortunately, and I see this quite often in the area where I live. Here, inNE Pennsylvania we call it the Coal Miner Mentality drawing back to the time where voting against their best interests actually gave them Pay Raises and Bonuses. That type of voter Mentality has become Generational, the coal dust brain, and it’s not often enough that people break free of it. They won’t/can’t help themselves. It’s difficult in certain areas to get decent representation in to offices because of this. It’s Still their own fault.

      2. Alfred, consider this fact: Hawaii wants to cut Tourism Significantly leaving only the highest of earners and the Wealthy as Tourists. Of the approximate 10 million tourists they want to trim that down by 80% leaving a maximum of 2 million “Choice” tourists. They estimate that these people will spend enough to make up for losing 8 million unwanted. At that rate each person of the 2 million would need to spend a mere $17 thousand dollars a piece! Is that amount “feasible” in our current economy? For the Wealthy, Absolutely. Is it “feasible” for the high earners, remember that this would require every child regardless of age to spend $17,000 each without slacking off. Currently a family of 4 spends $8,500 total for 7 days.

        1. Ernie,

          It’s not just what the wealthy can afford, it’s what they are willing to spend and where they will spend it.

          Those 2,000,000 rich can spend their money and vacation whereever they want.

          $68,000 for a family of 4 will get the a pampered week at a private island.

          Of course there is the constitutional issue of preventing US citizens from visiting any state.

          One ride from the airport to Waikiki and most rich folks will go elsewhere.

  6. Hawaii is looking into having big problems with visitors, the Pilots want a pay increase and the state of Hawaii wants to charge visitors extra visitors fee’s, where do you think people will go for vacation? ( Mexico ) Hawaii will lose big time. very sad. Aloha Hawaii

    1. There are presently plenty of tourists with the means to fly to Hawaii, and stay here, who can easily absorb additional rate hikes and fees. Don’t kid yourself, it’s a huge world and Hawaii will never lack for tourists.

      1. Spot on Eldo, the tourists that look at Hawaii as if it should be as cheap as possible to suite their personal budget do not make up the demographic of everyone that comes here. Cheap vacations in Mexico are good for some and not for others. All Hawaii is trying to do is protect itself from being overrun, which is the ultimate result when mass budget travel is viewed as “good for the economy” It’s not, a healthy balance between tourism and quality of life here has to be found.

        1. John, at times Eldo does have some good ideas. Hawaii, done properly, isn’t a cheap thrill and should never be considered as such. At the same time Hawaii will continue to be overrun with tourists, Governor Green is only blowing smoke to appease Voter’s desires and will change. The amount of New Construction in Timeshare Units on Oahu as well as the amount of New, huge, Hotels that will be built need occupants and buyers thus the push for tourists with more income. The “When” is even calculated, just not for the general public to know. It’s all smoke and mirrors for now, the Money and Over Tourism will be back to an island near you!

      2. Eldo,

        “There are presently plenty of tourists with the means to fly to Hawaii, and stay here, who can easily absorb additional rate hikes and fees.”

        Then where are they? Hawaii has a mix ot tourists of different means. For many $4000 OR $5000 for a one week vacation, for a family of 4, is a big deal. Yet of all the vacation spots that fit into their budget, they CHOOSE an American destination and you write as though they are unwelcome. In your view only the well off should come. Well I can assure you that there are very few rich folks among the 10,000,000 who come every year. The rich and middle class have other choices.

        The grass may not be greener…

    2. Unfortunately, Americas appetite for drugs makes it unsafe to travel to Mexico as the cartels battle it out in resort towns for supremacy to sell drugs to the same said tourists.

    3. West Indies, Mexico, the Caribbean, Italy and many other wonderful vacation destinations that cost considerably less. Greece has great deals!

  7. Rational discussion of who deserved how much and how much fares should rise is futile as long as greed, business growth and profit are the fundamental considerations that drive our daily lives and supplant the idea of taking care of one another. This unidirectional thinking can only result in ultimate collapse.

  8. It’s Great to see the Pilots receive due compensation, it’s also time for SWA to give their Pilots similar. If a strike were to occur at SWA during the upcoming months, never mind any time, would be an enormous set back to them and the passengers. SWA needs to settle before the Strike Occurs and Must, Must, Invest in their Computers! It’s an enormous amount of money to do both but will alleviate many problems and streamline efficiency, paying for itself over time. With a lack of Pilots now isn’t the time to lose any to the Competition!

  9. In the last 3 months; DL, AA, AS & now HA have negotiated 30% + pay raise contracts. UA & SWA are still in negotiations. It won’t just be Hawaii that will have high fares but all 49 states as well. Fares will be rising substantially, and the traveling public will have to adjust to this new reality. It’s hard to make a profit if fares average $150.00 one-way and pilots make $440.00 an hour.

    1. We’ll, on the mainland, at least you can drive. That’s not an option here. Here, visiting family on neighbor islands or coming to Oahu for medical care is based on the whims of airline competition. That’s not very reliable.

    2. Yes it can be more difficult to make a profit. Have you considered what You don’t think of? Every Flight is loaded with expensive cargo that pays quite well, alone it wouldn’t cover all of the expenses, however, coupled with 60% of the seats filled, or less, they do make a good profit. They know how to make money.

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