The recent announcement that Hawaiian Airlines reported an annual profit of $233 million should be good news for the company and its executives. We can all take satisfaction that our premier air carrier weathered a challenging 2018 for the visitor industry and still emerged in the black.

Hawaiian can continue the stream of good news for our state by returning something it took away from our islands in 2007. Nearly 200 workers lost their positions when the airline decided to outsource its call center by shifting it to the Philippines. The move might have made sense at a time when the company was emerging from bankruptcy and looking to reduce costs in order to keep flying, but not today.

Economic conditions have changed dramatically. Tourist arrivals are approaching 10 million annually. The airline has a virtual monopoly on interisland traffic and is expanding its mainland and international routes. It’s time to return those jobs to Hawaii. These are good-paying jobs, which can range from $17 per hour at entry level to $29 an hour for top positions.

Hawaiian Airlines traveler silhouetted in the HNL Interisland Terminal.
A Hawaiian Airlines traveler silhouetted in the Interisland Terminal. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It’s more than an issue of corporate responsibility. It’s also about continuing to be a good neighbor, which Hawaiian has been in the past. It’s worth noting that on top of providing $23 million in profit sharing with its employees, Hawaiian also donated more than $200,000 in cash to local charities 2017, as well as countless volunteer hours through its local employees.

Still, the benefits for relocating the call center back home to Hawaii are clear. It’s not simply charity. More job opportunities mean more people working and more money being pumped into our local economy, as well as more tax revenue generated for local governments.

Even with increased internet automation of customer service, it still makes good business sense for Hawaiian to have local people helping local clients. As part of Hawaiian’s essential local customer base, we have every right to expect good service delivered by reservation and customer claims agents who have local sensibilities and are part of our Hawaii ohana.

If Hawaiian’s new CEO would look at the double bottom line and not just the financial one, it should be a win-win situation for everyone. That’s why I have introduced House Concurrent Resolution 13 to put the Hawaii Legislature on record asking for Hawaiian Airlines to bring those call center jobs back home. It’s time for Hawaiian to do the right thing.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author