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, helping Lanakila Meals on Wheels provide food for our kūpuna (senior citizens), shipping food 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Even though the food drive is over, Faiai continues to receive donation offers, including one employee family’s pledge to give several boxes of frozen meat, and she is considering hosting a second event.
“For so many years, team PPG members have given their best effort for me and the company, and during these tough times, we are very honored to return the favor,” reflected Tuli Fruean, manager of our PPG station. “I am so very proud of all the people who stepped forward to assist our ‘ohana in need.”
The Cargo Flight That Took an Entire Company (And More)
When Every1ne Hawai‘i 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.