Federal Lawsuit By Renowned Airline Law Firm Seeks To Block Alaska/Hawaiian Deal

Attorneys Blocking JetBlue/Spirit Merger Now Targeting Hawaiian/Alaska Airlines Deal

A new lawsuit has been filed by a well-known San Francisco attorney to attempt to block the acquisition of Hawaii Airlines by Alaska Airlines. This is not the first such suit, and it may also not be the last. But what stands out, in part, is that this law firm also filed a similar suit wherein JetBlue was subsequently blocked in its attempt to acquire Spirit Airlines.

The lawsuit spawned by Joseph M. Alioto Jr. challenges Alaska Airlines’ proposed acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines, a move already under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice.

This legal action is being driven by a group of passengers. The lawsuit emerges in parallel with federal regulatory activities regarding the merger proposal.

Alaska Airlines still intends to acquire Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion, as was announced in December, in a transaction that would significantly impact Hawaii’s airline dynamics. The significant combined market share of the combined airline could have some impact on reduced competition and potentially lead to higher prices.

Whether or not that would evolve, however, remains to be seen. There are other major competitors larger than the combined Hawaiian/Alaska that are highly involved in Hawaii flights, including both Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

The lawsuit, not yet seen by Beat of Hawaii, claims that the merger would unduly change market dynamics, thereby harming consumers. It seeks judicial intervention to stop the merger initially via a preliminary injunction.

Alioto Law Firm is a name familiar in Hawaii airline news.

The same San Francisco-based law firm previously filed a lawsuit to stop the successful merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. That 2017 suit was said to have been on behalf of 40+ passengers who had similar claims to those allegedly opposing the Alaska/Hawaiian deal.

That Alioto suit included similar language regarding the “proposed elimination of Virgin America by the Defendant Alaska Airlines constitutes a substantial threat of injury to the Plaintiffs because the acquisition may have the effect substantially to lessen competition and tend to create a monopoly in various markets…” Alioto also said that prior merger would have reduced flights to smaller markets, resulting in higher airfares.

More recently, Alioto filed suit against the proposed merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines that subsequently failed. That case document is attached below. Alioto is known for these suits attempting to block airline mergers on behalf of passengers and to prevent price-fixing.

Please share your thoughts on the proposed acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines by Alaska Airlines and this latest twist.


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24 thoughts on “Attorneys Blocking JetBlue/Spirit Merger Now Targeting Hawaiian/Alaska Airlines Deal”

  1. Wonder if Aliota has United Stock, they’re the largest Carrier out of SFO, 7 Codeshares, 61 U.S. Cities and 18 Countries! Spirit is in danger of BK w/o the Jet Blue Merger, if Hawaiian did the same without Alaska, prices go up, not down, AA, United, Delta calling the shots on the Fare’s as Southwest with 737 is a different animal, who’s Inter-Island will be the only game in town!

  2. Current employee at Hawaiian here. Ir really do hope the merger doesn’t go through. From the grapevines I have heard at corporate and other credible coworkers, we would be able to survive if we don’t merge. This “bankruptcy” nonsense is fear mongering at its best and it’s funny to see people assume that.

    1. Guessing the fact that the DOJ is so on top of this escapes you because any fraudulent statements by anyone involved would not be tolerated by the DOJ. Feel free to believe what you want but the corporate balance sheets don’t lie!

  3. Before agreeing on the merger both parties took into account that Alioto was going to file a lawsuit. You notice neither Hawaiian nor Alaska management are overly concerned.

  4. It would seem that Alioto does these lawsuits almost pro forma to any deal that is announced. I am sure that he understands that the scorecard that he has on these lawsuits is directly related to who is in the White House at the time of filing. He lost the VA-AK merger fight, but he won by blocking the JetBlue-Spirit merger, he must think that there is enough to stop this one from happening. We will have to see if the claims they make are big enough to bring the deal into question.

  5. We love both airlines and hope the merger goes through. With over one billion in debt Hawaiian Air is on its way to bankruptcy just like Aloha Airlines. Then who wins??? Not consumers.

  6. I was due to being stationed in hawaii by the military but I have turned down my orders for Hawaii since they want to attempt to charge a visitor tax and my family of five that’s 2 adults and 3 children and since we’re not sure if military housing is available right away that’s going to make obtaining a hotel or longer term rentals another concern. The military will not cover that tax, the other issue is I would of had to pay taxes for the plane and hotel reservations here in my state of Colorado and then a tax charge for Hawaii thus is a bad thing for Hawaii as our parents would want to visit their grandkids but not if their forced to pay taxes in both states plus resort fees for staying at a hotel that doesn’t have things a resort

  7. Who paid this attorney for fitrst case and how much did they make? Who is paying the attorney for this case? They used to call these attorneys ambulance chasers.

  8. I support the blockade to merge HAL with Alaska Air. Any attempt to create a monopoly by airlines to adversely affect the people of Hawaii not to mention our tourist trade should be met with strong push back.

    1. So you would rather prefer that Hawaiian Airlines declare bankruptcy and go out of business!? Yeah, that will certainly serve the people of Hawaii so much better!

    2. I would of had family members wanting to visit my family here in Hawaii but with the so called green fee plus the per person so called resort fees charged for hotels some shouldn’t be considered as resorts since they lack spas, exercise equipment, pools or hot tubs. They say the in room coffee, microwave, and in most cases no refrigerator in the room, but they also say the towels and washcloth plus sheets are also included in the resort fees.

      I mean no other run of the mill hotels charge a resort fee for normal room maid service, so even if I had millions my family and I will stay on the main land plus our next vacation will be in Thailand where a two bedroom suite plus meals and drinks will only cost me $1,300 for the month

    3. You do realize Hawaiian will probably go bankrupt, if not go under if the merger doesn’t go through. Then you’ll be stuck with Southwest who will jack up the prices.

    4. Have you ever been to Starbucks? Have you ever smelled the coffee? Hawaiian is toast without this deal. If they can’t merge with Alaska, they will not be able to merge with anyone else. So, only two options remain: A rich person like Warren Buffet buys it and feeds millions into it to revive it or they go out of business. The airline is in a death spiral. Be careful what you wish for my Hawaiian neighbors. You just might get it.

  9. Hawaiian Airlines is dying. The fall off in tourism, especially on Maui, is having predictable effects, many business are failing. The greatest threat to Hawaii isn’t tourism, it’s the racially based anti tourism sentiment. These folks want a return to the old Hawaii.

  10. Retired attorney here. We have a term for law firms like Alioto’s, who file these lawsuits primarily (if not solely) because of the large legal fees they can collect: bottom feeders.

    1. It would be nice if this law firm was held liable as well as their clients for trying to interfere out of pure self service… this is a good deal deal for air travel to Hawaii and the employees of both airlines. They failed with Virgin, this case is even weaker for them

    1. Depends if you are connecting to Hawaiian or SWA…Hawaiian has more flights and you can check your bags through to your final destination…SWA doesn’t cooperate with the other carriers and you need a lot of extra time to retrieve your bag and recheck it, also they have fewer flights so fewer options if you are delayed

      1. Hi John.

        Good point. Thanks. If you’re staying on Southwest, no problem. Otherwise between Southwest and others, you will be going through security and bag retrieval/check-in


    2. Depends on which airport. 45 minutes maybe for OGG, hour if HNL if you have different airlines for inter-island. To be safe though, hour just to account for any delays getting off the plane. I’ve had 30 minute ones and have been fine though.

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