Former Maui Aloha Station Manager Mitchell Hazama said his most difficult task, after learning of the airline's shutdown, was breaking the news to the more than 375 employees he supervised.
"To see the tears in their eyes and the look of disbelief made it extremely
difficult to find the right words to cheer them up," Hazama, 56, recalled recently.
Mitchell Hazama had his photo taken in front of the Aloha Airlines sign at the Kahului Airport on the day the company shut down March 31, 2008.
Photo courtesy of Mitchell Hazama
Despite their sadness, the employees fulfilled their assignments "and made sure the passengers were serviced with a smile to the very last flight," he said. "It was a fitting tribute to the true spirit of aloha that lived in the 3,500 employees who made the company proud to the very end."
Now working as a director of operations and sales at a private company he declined to name, Hazama said he doesn't miss his work at Aloha Airlines, where he was employed part time and full time since the summer of 1970. Other than management, he also worked as a baggage handler and in reservations, the ticket office, cargo and customer service. He worked on Oahu and Maui.
What he said he misses are his fellow employees.
"The employees worked hard, and we were like one big ohana," he said.
But now, "I tell people, 'Life is good outside the airport,' " said Hazama, who added that it was an honor to work for an airline that was named the No. 1 airline in Hawaii in the early 1990s.
Hazama said he never lost employment after the Aloha shutdown. He worked for a few months with Aloha Contract Services and later took the management position with a private company.
He credits Aloha's management training for his success today. And he said his career at Aloha and his experience with the layoffs have taught him a great life lesson: "Nothing lasts forever. You should never take anything for granted."
- Claudine San Nicolas