Contrasting views on Hawaii’s future here, from travel kingpins, all three. Warren Buffett, Southwest’s Gary Kelly and Hawaiian Airlines’ Peter Ingram all just piped up about their take on Hawaii and the related airline industry. So who do you believe, and what’s your take?
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett rocked the travel industry over the weekend when he announced that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, has sold its massive share in Southwest as well as American, Delta and United. He believes it will take years for air travel to resume normally and those businesses to be successful.
“I don’t know whether it’s two or three years from now that as many people will fly as many passenger miles as they did last year. The future is much less clear to me about how the (airline) business will turn out through absolutely no fault of the airlines themselves.”
Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines.
In response to Warren Buffett, Kelly said, “I don’t think anybody knows, and certainly that’s not an unreasonable view to take. It’s a pessimistic one. I am far more optimistic.”
Kelly said, “I believe this too shall pass. You go back to the Spanish Flu in 1918, it was followed by the roaring 20’s. Life will get back to normal. It is a question of how long that is going to take.”
If demand does not improve “we would have to dramatically downsize …. I don’t think that’s the future. We’re working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaiian says that in terms of late summer and early fall bookings, they are running less than 40% behind where they would expect to be. That’s relatively excellent news, especially following a virtually 100% drop in demand that starting in March.
Ingram said accurately that Hawaii “is a place where the effects of this horrible disease haven’t ravaged it as much. By acting quickly and aggressively, we are as close to (disease) free as any place in the country.”
When travel comes back, Ingram concurs with our belief at Beat of Hawaii, that testing won’t be part of any initial solution. He said tests on passenger arrivals aren’t realistic given current limitations, but that other measures will be implemented.