Last month, the frenzy around airline consolidation was rekindled as Spirit Airlines announced a plan to merge with Frontier Airlines. That was leapfrogged this week when relative bemoth JetBlue jumped in to compete for Spirit, sweetening the acquisition pie to the tune of $3.6 billion in cash. The result would be both airlines flying under the JetBlue name, based in New York.
We’ll suggest that this isn’t going to end there, and it could, in fact, come very close to home.
You may recall, in an acquisition related to Hawaii, that it was exactly six years ago this week that Alaska Airlines successfully bid $2.6 billion to acquire Virgin America. That merger reached fruition, albeit challenging to complete, due to federal concerns about lack of competition, and potential fare increases.
Since then, significant airline mergers and acquisitions have largely gone quiet. Until now.
Airline mergers/acquisitions on front burner again, testing the water.
This week’s airline news brings further attention to the question of what might happen next in airline consolidations. Many analysts believe that yesterday’s JetBlue plan is just the beginning of the next round of airline moves, which will likely remain focused on regional and discount carriers. These companies are under competitive pressure from the largest U.S. airlines.
A chess game in the making – is Hawaiian the next move for Jet Blue?
Could their sights have been set for years on buying Hawaiian Airlines? We’ve suggested for a long time that a merger between Hawaiian Airlines and a larger player would, by necessity, occur at some point down the road.
A future consolidation might bring JetBlue, Spirit and Hawaiian together into a larger, more competitive alliance with far greater distribution, capable of better dealing with the likes of American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines? Those four main players are currently responsible for two-thirds of all U.S. domestic air traffic.
Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue are already code-share partners.
Back in 2018, the two carriers announced “an expanded (26-airport) codeshare agreement that allows travelers… to easily connect to the Hawaiian Islands via Boston’s Logan International Airport. Boston-area JetBlue customers can now purchase tickets on Hawaiian Airlines’ nonstop flight to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) with JetBlue’s ‘B6’ code and earn TrueBlue points when they fly. Hawaiian and JetBlue’s guests also will continue to enjoy one-stop check-in and baggage transfers to their final destination, as well as the opportunity to earn and redeem loyalty rewards.”
What’s your take on the next round of airline consolidations?
We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.