Mark Dunkerley, CEO of Hawaiian Airlines
Mark Dunkerley, CEO of Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines CEO: Taxes are Out of Control

Hawaiian Airlines brings in $1.6 billion a year and would like to increase that to $2 billion in 2012. But there are tremendous challenges, the airline’s president and CEO, Mark Dunkerley said.

Speaking at the Smart Business Hawaii annual conference on Wednesday, January 11, Dunkerley said taxes are “out of control.” Hawaiian Airlines must pay 20 percent of its revenue in taxes and makes just 2 percent profit, after all other expenses are paid. But federal rules prohibit the airline from disclosing those taxes to customers.

An estimated 28 percent of the company’s revenue is spent on fuel, which continues to rise in cost, and another 17 percent goes to personnel.

And the carrier is the “single most disadvantaged carrier in the country” because of the Honolulu International Airport layout. Hawaiian Airlines operations take up about 50 percent of the airport, however the airline is spread over four different sections throughout the property instead of in just one area. Hawaiian Airlines is funding 50 percent of an airport modernization plan at the airport, which Dunkerley hopes will be completed in the next couple of years.

Hawaiian Airlines also will continue its expansion plans, investing “a staggering amount of money” – $8 billion – into adding to its airlines fleet and flights.

Hawaiian already operates 200 flights a day, but  will offer flights to additional mainland cities this year, including a direct flight to New York this June and will start new flights to Asia.  Five hundred new positions will be added in the company, which is currently one-twentieth the size of the nation’s largest airlines.

Dunkerley, who made a lively presentation, injecting his well-known sense of humor throughout, said parents “should not let their children grow up to be airline executives” because it is a “terrible business to be in.Congressman Ed Case Unveils Economic Agenda, Issues Challenge to Primary Opponent Congressmember Hirono

Congressman Ed Case Unveils Economic Agenda, Issues Challenge to Primary Opponent Congressmember Hirono

Congressman Ed Case, D-HI (2002-2007) unveiled his economic agenda at the Smart Business Hawaii conference on Wednesday, January 13. He emphasized the importance of balancing the federal budget; instituting the four “Ts” of tax reform, technology, trade and talent in the workplace; focusing on “bread and butter industries like tourism” but promising new export industries such as “green energy, health care and education”; and supporting the “engine of growth”, small business.

Case told Hawaii Reporter he was dismayed his primary opponent, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-HI, chose not to appear at what was supposed to be a U.S. Senate candidate forum. Invitations to the forum were sent more than three months ago.

On January 3, 2012, Case called on Hawaii Democratic Party Chair Dante Carpenter to organize a series of “town hall” style debates throughout the state with Hirono. While Carpenter agreed, Hirono has not yet agreed to show and she skipped yesterday’s Smart Business Hawaii event.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s former Governor, also declined to appear at the conference citing a scheduling conflict. She was traveling to the island of Hawaii. Lingle’s primary opponent, former state Senator John Carroll, focused his comments on his plan to stop the Akaka Bill from passing the U.S. Senate. The bill, which has been pending in Congress for more than 10 years,  would establish a separate Hawaiian nation similar to an Indian tribe. Carroll also wants to eliminating the Jones Act, federal legislation that prohibits competition in the shipping industry because it requires American manned and made ships transport goods between American ports.

Honolulu Rail Most Expensive Per Capita

Transportation and planning expert Wendell Cox, who runs Demographia, an international public policy firm and specializes in urban policy, transport and demographics, will be featured on Hawaii Reporter Television tomorrow.

Cox has been a consultant for United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand public authorities and for public policy organizations, and he served three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC), where he authored the tax amendment that provided the initial funding for building light rail (“Blue” Line) and the subway (“Red” Line).

With an extensive background in transportation and planning, Cox reviewed the proposed Honolulu rail project and said it will cost residents billions of dollars and won’t improve traffic. The Honolulu’s rail plan is the most expensive per capita in the country, he said.

Oahu taxpayers already have to pay more than $2 billion on water and sewer infrastructure upgrades and billions of dollars more funding employee pension plans, which does not leave enough money for the $5.3 billion rail project, he said.

Cox also made a presentation at the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance and the Smart Business Hawaii conference on Wednesday.

Mayoral Musical Chairs

Former city managing director Kirk Caldwell will announce his candidacy for Honolulu mayor on Thursday, January 12. That means he and current mayor Peter Carlisle will run against each other again as they did two years ago.  Both are pro-rail candidates.

Former Governor Benjamin Cayetano also may run for mayor, with the primary goal of stopping the construction of the 20-mile heavy, elevated steel on steel rail. He promises to confirm his plans within the next 10 days.

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