The airline named after the 49th U.S. state says it has reached a $1.9 billion deal to acquire the airline named after the 50th U.S. state in an agreement that would see Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines share a single operating platform and loyalty program, but that would preserve the separate brands.
The surprise news was made public on Sunday as Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci attempted to assuage fears that the Seattle-based carrier would try to radically change the Hawaiian Airlines brand or its unique relationship with Hawaii.
“We have a longstanding and deep respect for Hawaiian Airlines, for their role as a top employer in Hawai‘i, and for how their brand and people carry the warm culture of aloha around the globe,” commented Minicucci as the news broke.
“We are fully committed to investing in the communities of Hawai‘i and maintaining robust Neighbor Island service that Hawaiian Airlines travelers have come to expect.”
So, what do the two airlines plan to get out of this merger? Simply put, it’s all about the additional scale and resources that a single-parent company can offer, which should deliver significant cost savings and allow the airlines to better compete with larger rivals.
The combined airline company will operate 365 aircraft, serve 138 destinations and employ 31,200 workers, although the carrier will remain the fifth-largest airline in the United States.
On Sunday, the two airlines made their case for the merger, saying their complementary route networks would open up new travel options for consumers while also expanding Hawaii services.
Honolulu Airport will become an Alaska Airlines hub following the acquisition, while the HawaiianMiles loyalty program will be folded into Alaska’s lauded Mileage Plan program. Hawaiian Airlines will then apply to join the Oneworld airline alliance, which Alaska joined two years ago.
Both Minicucci and Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram made a compelling case for the merger on Sunday, although it’s not that long since Alaska’s troubled takeover of Virgin America.
Alaska bought Virgin America in 2014 to expand its presence in California, where the rival carrier was dominant, but initial promises to operate the two airlines as separate brands were broken just two years later.
The Virgin America brand disappeared for good in 2018, although Alaska Airlines recently lost a court battle against the Virgin Group who argued that the carrier had promised to pay it royalties for years to come for the brand rights, whether it actually planned to use the name or not.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.