Hawaiian Airlines hires 100 workers, plans to add 170 more

Hawaiian Airlines said it will add 170 jobs by early next year to staff the first of its new Airbus A330-200 jets.

Hawaiian also said that it has hired 100 aircraft mechanics, service representatives, ramp agents and maintenance workers in recent months in preparation for the ambitious expansion.

The new jobs, coming at a time when many in the airline industry are downsizing, are part of a $4.4 billion, 15-year fleet makeover, in which Hawaiian aims to add as many as 27 new long-range Airbus aircraft.

"Everyone at Hawaiian has worked hard to keep our company in the enviable position of pursuing our growth strategy," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and CEO.

"We're delighted to be doing our part in helping the state's economy by welcoming these new employees and the many more that will be joining us in the months ahead."

Hawaiian, the state's largest airline, currently employs 3,756 employees. According to Dunkerley, the airline could add as many as 1,000 new jobs over the next 15 years to staff its expanding fleet.

The new hirings are a welcome sign for Hawaii's economy, which has lost more than 20,000 jobs during the past year. Since May 2008, the statewide unemployment rate has more than doubled to 7.4%.

The local airline industry has been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn. The March 2008 shutdown of Aloha Airlines, the Isles' second-largest carrier, resulted in the loss of more than 1,900 jobs, in the largest-ever mass layoff in Hawaii.

According to Dunkerley, Hawaiian has hired more than 403 former Aloha employees since last year. That figure could increase with the addition of the new Airbus jets.

Hawaiian embarked on its expansion in February 2008 when it signed a purchase agreement with Airbus of France to acquire the first of six wide-body A330-200 aircraft and six A350XWB-800 extra wide-body jets.

The airline has an option for 12 additional Airbus aircraft and has signed lease agreements for three more A330s.

The Airbus jets are larger, more fuel efficient than Hawaiian's current trans-Pacific fleet of 18 Boeing 767-300 planes and have a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles, allowing the company to expand its services throughout North America and Asia.

The first of the Airbus A330 will arrive in April.

In the long-term, Hawaiian said it's considering a number of new international routes but is waiting for economic conditions to improve before making a decision on the new destinations.

The Honolulu Advertiser is owned by Gannett, parent company of USA TODAY.

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