Private Citizens Sue to Block Alaska Airlines' $1.9 Billion Takeover of Hawaiian Airlines

By Ivan PetrenkoApr 23, 2024 23:30 PMNews
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A Hawaiian Airlines aircraft in flight against a pink sky backdrop
A Hawaiian Airlines aircraft in flight against a pink sky backdrop. Source: unsplash

A group of eight private citizens has filed a lawsuit in a Hawaii district court to block the proposed $1.9 billion takeover of Hawaiian Airlines by Alaska Airlines. They argue that the merger would harm passengers and lead to the erosion of Hawaiian's distinct identity, known as the 'Aloha spirit.' This legal challenge comes as Alaska Airlines seeks to merge with Hawaiian Airlines, creating a single entity with separate brands.

The lawsuit, filed under the Clayton Antitrust Act, aims to prevent the merger due to concerns about reduced competition and job losses in Hawaii. The plaintiffs, including airline passengers and former travel agents, believe that consolidation in the airline industry has led to increased airfare prices and anti-consumer fees. They fear that Alaska's acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines could harm passengers, reduce competition, and threaten Hawaii-based jobs.

Alaska Airlines announced its intention to acquire Hawaiian Airlines before JetBlue was forced to abandon its takeover of Spirit Airlines in January, following a successful challenge by the US Department of Justice. The proposed deal would create a combined airline with 365 aircraft, serving 138 destinations, and employing 31,200 workers. However, the lawsuit highlights Alaska Airlines' history with Virgin America, acquired in 2017, which lost its unique brand identity after the merger.

The plaintiffs' complaint argues that Hawaiian Airlines plays a crucial role in maintaining competition in the airline industry, especially on the 12 overlapping routes between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. The lawsuit suggests that the merger could reduce vigorous head-to-head competition and lead to Alaska Airlines becoming the dominant seat capacity provider between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.

Despite Alaska Airlines' assurances to maintain Hawaiian's unique identity, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to prevent the completion of the acquisition. The lawsuit is in its early stages, and the outcome could impact the future of airline competition and the unique character of Hawaiian Airlines.

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