Eight Hawaiian Airlines employees, who recently attended flight attendant training at the carrier’s Honolulu headquarters, tested positive this week for coronavirus after feeling ill.
Hawaiian spokesman Alex Da Silva confirmed today that among the infected were two flight attendant trainers and six flight attendants who were undergoing training.
“We are supporting our team members in their recovery, helping contact anyone who may have been at risk of exposure, and reinforcing our office protocols to keep our employees safe,” Da Silva said.
Da Silva said the source of the infection is still being investigated.
“Only one flight attendant worked one flight last week, prior to developing symptoms. We have provided information about each case to public health agencies to support any notification they deem necessary,” he said.
Hawaii Department of Health officials today reported 20 new coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total number of infections to 946. Today’s new cases include 17 on Oahu and three on Hawaii island, according to the department daily midday count. Hawaii has 182 active infections as of today.
The new cases at Hawaiian Airlines come as the carrier prepares to resume most of its U.S. mainland routes and increase its neighbor island schedule. Hawaiian had significantly reduced its service amid declining travel demand from COVID-19 fears and tourism lockdowns, which began in Hawaii about mid-March and even earlier for some of the international destinations that the airline serves.
Hawaiian’s decision to add more service follows Gov. David Ige’s announcement last week that starting Aug. 1 the state would allow passengers with approved negative COVID-19 tests taken within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii may bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for out-of-state passengers. The out-of-state quarantine runs through July 31 and is expected to be extended for those without approved negative coronavirus tests.
The carrier said it will begin once-daily service between Honolulu and Portland on Wednesday. It will add a once-daily service to San Diego and Sacramento on July 15.
Effective Aug. 1, the carrier said it plans to reinstate nonstop service from six U.S. mainland cities to Honolulu, including Boston, New York, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Oakland. Hawaiian said it also plans to resume some U.S. West Coast-to-neighbor island routes with its narrow-body Airbus A321neo aircraft, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento to Kahului, Maui; Los Angeles and Oakland to Lihue, Kauai; and Los Angeles to Kona on the Island of Hawaii.
Starting Aug. 6, Hawaiian plans to resume weekly service between Honolulu and American Samoa.
Some Hawaii residents and lawmakers are anxious about the possibility that the second wave of coronavirus cases will come with the broader reopening of travel. However, others, especially members of the visitor industry, hope that safe travel may resume promptly so the state can begin to heal from the dire economic consequences of halting tourism.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Monday that visitor arrivals by air in May fell 99% to 9,116 visitors as compared with May 2019 when 841,376 arrivals came to Hawaii by air and cruise ship. Cruise ships haven’t returned to Hawaii since stopping service in the early days of the pandemic in Hawaii.
Hawaiian said its new service will resume under the new comprehensive health and safety program —including the use of face coverings, airport and on-board spacing, and enhanced cleaning measures — adopted by the airline in May.