Month: April 2020

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Hawaiian Airlines: It Takes a Community Celebrating Our Employees’ Acts of Aloha

Hawaiian Airlines: It Takes a Community Celebrating Our Employees’ Acts of Aloha

Amid uncertain times brought on by the pandemic, our employees have put themselves on the frontlines of efforts to kōkua (help) the local communities that have supported us for the past nine decades.

Whether in good times or bad, our Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana has always stepped forward to help its fellow teammates and neighbors in need. Amid uncertain times brought on by the pandemic, our employees have put themselves on the frontlines of efforts to kōkua (help) the local communities that have supported us for the past nine decades.

For several weeks, volunteers have proudly donned their purple Team Kōkua shirts while building a rich portfolio of philanthropic efforts during these difficult times. Their efforts include sorting food at the Hawaii Foodbank Opens external link to page that may not meet accessibility guidelines, helping Lanakila Meals on Wheels Opens external link to page that may not meet accessibility guidelines provide food for our kūpuna (senior citizens), shipping food Opens external link to page that may not meet accessibility guidelines to our state’s rural and at-risk communities, and more.

Our ‘ohana’s inspiring acts of aloha have been executed at every level of giving, from wide-scale company efforts to individual employees pushing to make a difference. These are the stories that make us proud to be Hawai‘i’s airline, proving that no effort to mālama (care) and lōkahi (collaborate) is too big or too small.

Sewing Face Masks for Her Community

As health experts began recommending that anyone going into public spaces cover their faces, the demand for face coverings soared. With masks flying off store shelves, Caprice Vida, senior project manager at Hawaiian Airlines, and her family put their sewing talents to work to join a growing cadre of citizens making their own face coverings for their families, friends, and others.

Vida and her mother sewing masks in the kitchen of her home.

“In our little operation, I go out and buy the fabric while my mom does the sewing,” explains Vida. “After the day’s work is complete, my daughter and I go out and make deliveries. In addition to my regular Hawaiian Airlines work, it makes for a long day, but it’s worth it.”

The Vida ‘ohana makes 10 to 20 non-medical face coverings per day with each mask taking 30 to 60 minutes to complete. She has donated her masks to the Blood Bank of Hawai‘i for their volunteers, distributed batches to her colleagues and offered to make more for others at no cost.

A selection of the masks Vida and her family have made for her community.

“We are doing this because we know that there’s a need and we have the capability to meet that need. I am so passionate about helping our community and this is our small way to contribute to everyone’s safety as we try to get through this pandemic,” she said.

PPG Station Gathers Food for Teammates in Need

In the Samoan language, mālama translates to fetausia`i – and our team in America Samoa had plenty to spare. With our flights between Pago Pago (PPG) and Honolulu suspended until at least the end of May, some of our employees were impacted by the grounded operations.

Our PPG management team recognized the need for food and basic supplies within their own ‘ohana and organized a food drive to help relieve their hardship. More than 23 employees donated food over the three-and-a-half-hour drive. As a result, 13 boxes full of chicken, rice, milk, water, and other essential items were collected and distributed to any colleague who needed the help.

The team at our station in Pago Pago, American Samoa, at the conclusion of a successful food drive.

“In the Samoan culture, we have a saying that when the big toe is injured, the rest of the body feels it and that’s exactly how I felt when I thought of this idea,” recalled Mariana Faiai, guest service chief agent at PPG and organizer of the station food drive. “I felt the struggles that people are feeling, not only the Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana but also everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Cargo Flight That Took an Entire Company (And More)

When Every1ne Hawai‘i Opens external link to page that may not meet accessibility guidelines wanted to bring a large supply of face masks to Hawai'i residents, they turned to our airline for assistance in transporting the shipment to Honolulu (HNL) from Shenzhen, China. Working with local organizations and vendors, the grassroots group acquired the protective gear directly from factories in China for distribution via a fleet of “mask mobiles” and a “mask marketplace” at City Mill locations. As the hometown carrier, we welcomed the humanitarian mission with open wings.

However, organizing an international charter flight can be complicated even when the industry is at its healthiest, and this mission required a company-wide effort and several weeks of planning to ensure the necessary approvals, people and equipment were in place to safely transport 1.6 million masks.

An image of the shipment of masks being loaded into our aircraft in Shenzhen, China.

Our cargo teams developed a plan that followed the government regulations and restrictions of all countries involved and fulfilled unique requirements with freight forwarders and cargo consolidators in China. In Honolulu, our operations teams were busy finalizing flight plans, obtaining maintenance support and equipment, arranging crew rest and layovers and catering the aircraft. Our maintenance team removed the lower deck crew rest module, located underneath the passenger cabin, of an Airbus A330 to maximize cargo space to accommodate over 800 boxes.

Our crews unloading 1.6 million face masks from the belly of the retrofitted Airbus A330 that landed in Honolulu on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 21.

“It takes many hands to do great work and there were many that made this effort possible,” said Managing Director of Cargo Brad Matheny. “We are proud to be Hawai‘i’s airline and appreciate the opportunity to help our community, especially in times of great need.”

The crew onboard the humanitarian cargo flight bound for Shenzhen, China. From L to R || (Back row): A330 First Officer Theodore Scott Hebert, Aircraft Mechanic Hirotake Masuko, A330 Captain Donald Del Carmen, Assistant Manager of Weight and Balance Sean Sanfilippo, Aircraft Mechanic Sheldon Burgher || (Front row) A330 First Officer Aron Penzes, and Senior Manager of Contract Services Lianne Villaro || (Not pictured) A330 Captain Neil Yonamine

On Saturday, April 18, four pilots, two mechanics and two airport operations employees boarded our aircraft and departed HNL for Incheon (ICN), South Korea, where the crew rested before continuing to Shenzhen (SZX), China. The aircraft made its celebrated return to HNL on Tuesday, April 21 at about 4:30 p.m. HST.

Upon landing at HNL on Tuesday afternoon, the plane was welcomed with a celebratory water cannon salute, or water lei, as it taxied to its gate.

“There was an incredible effort made from our entire company to get the logistics, planning and approvals done for this flight. It was a lot of work but we’re glad to have accomplished it and have the shipment here in Hawai‘i now,” said Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team at Hawaiian Airlines for all of the amazing things they accomplished to make this happen for the community.”

Every1ne Hawai‘i representatives and Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram joined our crewmembers at our cargo facility to celebrate the arrival of 1.6 million face masks, which will be loaded into the organization's "mask mobiles" for complimentary distribution.

“Hawaiian really stepped up and rose to the occasion to make a lot of things happen…and I don’t even think we fully understand how difficult it was for them to get that shipment here,” said Robert Kurisu, co-founder of Every1ne Hawai‘i. “With this supply, we can basically supply all of our nonprofits partners serving vulnerable communities – not only on O‘ahu but throughout the whole state.”

Face masks will be loaded on a fleet of Every1ne Hawai‘i “mask mobiles.” Over the next several weeks, the organization will work with community nonprofits statewide and the City and County of Honolulu to coordinate the distribution of masks to protect Hawai‘i’s most vulnerable community members from COVID-19.

United Airlines Joins Governor’s “Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In.” Initiative to Ensure the Well-being of Older Californians

United Airlines Joins Governor’s “Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In.” Initiative to Ensure the Well-being of Older Californians

United Airlines is teaming up with Listos California – a campaign by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services that helps vulnerable Californians prepare for disasters – to help address the significant health risks faced by older state residents isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately 300 of the company's employees in Los AngelesSan Francisco and San Jose will dedicate their time to make tens of thousands of wellness calls to vulnerable Californians each week, checking in on them while providing a much-needed personal connection during this time of crisis.

"Listos California is delighted to connect United Airlines employees, highly trained in customer service, with isolated older adults in need of a calm and friendly voice, and competent direction to programs and services. The 'California For All' spirit, exemplified by the United workers' compassionate service, truly elevates the culture of community that this pandemic has inspired," said Karen Baker, Co-chair of Listos California Emergency Preparedness Campaign.

United is a founding partner of this innovative Social Bridging Project, which is being launched in partnership with Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) trained volunteers affiliated with local public safety agencies, and gerontology students at California State University, Sacramento. Governor Gavin Newsom recently called for support connecting with older residents through his "Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In." initiative, led by the California Department of Aging.

"United Airlines reached out to us [and said] we have a workforce that would be perfectly positioned to be able to make wellness calls … so we want to thank United Airlines. We love the idea that the folks that we usually check in with for our travel arrangements will be checking in with our seniors and older Californians [as part of this initiative]," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Today's announcement is an extension of a broader partnership between United and the state of California, including efforts to provide free, round-trip flights for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the country to help treat patients in this time of unprecedented need.  United has flown more than 100 healthcare volunteers into and out of California to areas most impacted by COVID-19 since the partnership was launched two weeks ago.

"Our shared purpose at United is connecting people and uniting the world, and during these unprecedented times that has never been more important. United employees make caring connections with travelers across the globe every day, and while there are fewer people in the skies, that commitment to our customers, and their well-being, has never been stronger. We are profoundly grateful to all of our compassionate employees who will be using their experience and training to bring some much-needed comfort to our state's most vulnerable residents during these difficult times," said Janet Lamkin, United Airlines President, California.

Beyond the free medical flights and its involvement in the Social Bridging Project, the airline's employees have been actively involved in finding other ways to support communities in need, including:

  • Volunteering with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, at the emergency distribution site at College of San Mateo.
  • Donating more than 2,400 dental kits, ear plugs, eye shades, hygiene items, socks and tissues to Samaritan House San Mateo, Larkin Street Youth Services, and USO.
  • Donating 300 amenity kits to frontline medical personnel at the University of California – San Francisco.
  • Donating 59lbs of food from the United Club and Sodexo to the Health Care Foundation for Ventura County.
  • Donating more than 2,000 pillows from its Economy Class cabins to Bay Area nonprofits.
  • Operating more than 500 cargo charter flights that have moved over 18.7M lbs of cargo (including PPE, medical equipment, mail and other general cargo).
  • Operating nearly 100 repatriation flights returning nearly 17,000 people home who were stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.