Life after politics: US Congressman resumes job as Hawaiian Airlines A330 pilot


For US Congressman Kai Kahele, life after politics is about to take off. 

The US Representative, who served one term in Congress, will resume his full-time job with Hawaiian Airlines as an Airbus A330 pilot.

The 117th United States Congress ended on January 3, 2023, and in a written and video statement, Kahele said that he will be immediately returning to full time employment with Hawaiian Airlines as an A330 captain and also continue his service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard. 

“It has been my greatest honor to serve as your United States Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District,” Kahele said in his press statement. “I am extremely proud of the work Team Kahele accomplished and the aloha spirit we brought to our nation’s capital.”

The statement also highlighted some of Kahele’s major pieces of federal registration enacted into law during his term:

  • The American Rescue Plan
  • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
  • The Inflation Reduction Act
  • The CHIPS and Science Act
  • The Honoring our PACT Act
  • The Safer Communities Act
  • The Respect for Marriage Act

According to aviation blog Live and Let’s Fly, Kahele had been working for Hawaiian Airlines since 2009 and with the blessing of his union, the Air Line Pilots Association, worked out a specifically tailored leave policy that maintain his flight status, seniority, and longevity with the company while representing Hawaii in the US Government.

While serving in Congress, Kahele managed to still work as a commercial pilot from time to time. 

“I would bid for the five-day Boston trips,” Kahele said. “It worked out perfectly. I would leave Monday and land on Tuesday morning, then go straight to D.C. I could take off my pilot uniform and put on my campaign uniform, then rejoin the crew for the flight home on Friday morning,” Kahele said in an interview with Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Former State Senator Jill Tokuda replaced Kahele on January 3, 2023.

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