As a passenger carrier is just that … history. And, also, a big hunk of Hawaiian history. On March 31, 2008, 11 days after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Aloha Airlines flew its last scheduled passenger flight , Flight AQ 261, from Kahului, Maui to Honolulu, Oahu.
If your connection to Hawaii wasn’t very strong, the announcement of Aloha Airline’s demise probably didn’t arouse your radar, or at the most only raised a “oh well, another airline bites the dust” thought.
For many citizens of the State of Hawaii, and expatriates, it was a sad day. Aloha Airlines and bankruptcy had been flirting with each other for several years, so it wasn’t any big surprise locally when the final flight was announced. But that didn’t make it any easier for the airline’s employee’s and their families. Of the 3,482 employees an estimated 1,900 retained employment to continue the cargo and ground services divisions … which are up for sale.
Aloha Airlines was founded by publisher Ruddy Tongg and his partners as Trans-Pacific Airlines. According to aviation historian Peter Forman:
“When Aloha first came in, they were responding to the prejudices of the time. They created an airlines that a person of any ethnicity could fly on and feel equally welcome. There are many old timers who still support Aloha for this reason.”
In the old days of Aloha Airlines, it was known as “the Peoples Airline,” and that feeling pretty much stuck through it’s history. Old timers tell of good times on the flights, with Flight Attendants (they were called Stewardesses in those days) serving pineapple juice, singing Hawaiian songs, even dancing the hula and playing the ‘ukulele.
And the equipment got improvised, too. When the airline still flew the unpressurized DC-3s, holes were put in the fuselage so that passengers could poke a camera through and take photographs. That’s called “island ingenuity.”
Bruddah, I’m going to miss Aloha Airlines. It always seemed they took off and landed a little faster. Kind of a hot express; didn’t fool around much taxiing to the terminal. I think when all the security measures hit the terminals and airlines there were a few folks who “make grumble,” but that was kind of universal.
So, if there’s any good stories out there, and you care to share them, we’ll do a little post with snippets of your stories. Be patient with me, ’cause I’m not the swiftest of formatters. We’ll call it Aloha Airlines history II.
Mahalo nui loa Aloha Airlines for all the great years of service. Tanks, eh.
If it looks like there’s a little raindrop sized puddle on your screen, it’s just me.
Aloha a hui hou