Latest News Impacts Merger Prospects For Hawaiian/Alaska Airlines

In an airline industry continuing to navigate the turbulent skies of consolidation and mergers, among other even bigger issues, the proposed union between Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines presents a complex situation that is drawing considerable attention from regulators and industry observers alike.

While recent reports can’t confirm that the merger is likely to happen, which is certainly the hope of the two airlines, a deeper dive into the circumstances surrounding this potential tie-up reveals a less straightforward path. That is in spite of the positive news this week.

Regulatory scrutiny and historical precedents.

The federal government has adopted a strong stance on antitrust enforcement, particularly in the airline sector. This was recently exemplified by the Justice Department’s actions against other airline mergers and partnerships, such as the lawsuit to dissolve the partnership between American and JetBlue, as well as successful efforts that blocked JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit. Even as many have pointed out significant differences between the proposed Alaska/Hawaiian tie-up and these, this is no slam-dunk. These federal interventions depict a commitment to preventing consolidations perceived as anti-consumer and stifling competition.

The Alaska Airlines/Hawaiian Airlines journey began with their joint announcement at a press conference on December 3, which Beat of Hawaii attended. This set the stage for extensive regulatory review at the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which commenced its in-depth investigation in February. That scrutiny involves a thorough examination of documents, data and other factors in order to assess the merger’s implications on Hawaii airline market competition.

Compliance and cooperation between Alaska, Hawaiian, and regulators.

In an important development this week, the two airlines recently confirmed compliance with a second detailed request for information from the DOJ. That milestone was crucial and has been successfully met, according to Alaska and Hawaiian. You’ll recall that the airlines previously agreed not to attempt to finalize their merger until at least 90 days following this event, in cooperation with the ongoing regulatory processes.

Financial and operational plans.

If the merger is allowed to proceed, Alaska Airlines is set to become the parent company and will be based in Seattle, while both airlines plan on continuing to operate under their existing brands. This arrangement may suggest an important merger success strategy, as we’d indicated, in maintaining each brand and its operations individually. But will that be enough to mitigate government concerns about concentrating the Hawaii airline market?

Analysis and outlook on Hawaiian merger prospects.

Contrary to some more optimistic reports, it appears that the reality reflects that the proposed merger still faces a series of hurdles and uncertainties. The severe regulatory landscape, reflected in the administration’s proactive antitrust stance, suggests that the path to a merger could still be fraught with challenges and delays, both anticipated and not.

As industry observers, we are maintaining a cautious but optimistic outlook on the merger’s prospects. Indeed the timely cooperation between Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and the DOJ is a good sign. Final approval and completion of the merger, however, still hinges on complex regulatory decisions, including how the DOT views the market conditions and possible strategic concessions that may still be required to address any antitrust concerns. We will know by August 5 what the DOJ has in mind for this merger.

Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming Alaska/Hawaiian merger?

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4 thoughts on “Latest News Impacts Merger Prospects For Hawaiian/Alaska Airlines”

  1. I am the widow of a Hawaiian Air captain and receive my pension from Prudential. How will a possible bankruptcy affect this payment?

  2. Being a loyal Hawaiian Airlines customer, I have mixed feelings about the merger. But a merger is certainly better than a bankruptcy. The DOJ is concerned about the Hawaii airline market being less competitive with a merger, but if Hawaiian Airlines goes out of business there will be even less options for flights, and therefore less competition, bringing fares even higher.

  3. We can only hope that the merger happens. If it does not HA will not make it. Losing a million $ a day is not sustainable.
    Thanks you for keeping us informed.

    7
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