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Alaska Airlines Acquires Hawaiian Airlines. What Does This Mean for Travelers?



December 4, 2023

2 min read

Alaska Airlines announced on December 3, 2023, that it would buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion. 

The move appears to have been made in an attempt to grow both airline brands respectively under a single loyalty offering. In other words, Alaska Airlines will still be Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines will still be Hawaiian, but your loyalty to each airline will get you a lot farther. 

The deal still needs to be approved by the US government, a process that could take anywhere from 9–18 months. However, the acquisition, if approved, could open up a few new opportunities for travelers, as well as potential pitfalls. 

Going spokesperson Katy Nastro told ABC7 San Francisco, "A merger of this size, whose route maps overlap a little bit, would result in—not any more cheap flights for consumers—but fewer cheap flights for consumers. As a consumer, we actually want competition. Airlines don't want competition with each other. They want to be the only one flying on specific routes because they can then set the prices.” 

In short, less competition on a route means higher prices for travelers. The hope is that another airline would swoop in with new routes and competitive pricing, putting downward pressure on flight costs. 

On the bright side, Alaska’s acquisition of Hawaiian would position Honolulu as its second largest hub after Seattle, expanding the airline’s transpacific offerings to include destinations like Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and South Korea. This bodes well for travelers on the West Coast looking for more flight options to Asia and the South Pacific. (And if you’re not on the West Coast, you could always take a repositioning flight to get to a West Coast hub, where you have more destinations at your fingertips.) 

The deal would also mean increased availability of flights to Hawaii from more mainland US airports with Alaska Airlines. Plus, Hawaiian Airlines was previously not part of a major airline alliance; the move adds Hawaiian to the Oneworld alliance, potentially opening up an array of new benefits for Hawaiian Elite members. 

Scott Keyes, Going founder and Chief Flight Officer, predicted a merger of this scale at the end of 2022, saying “there’s a decent chance one of the six largest US airlines will try to purchase a smaller carrier." He went on to say, “Alaska buying Hawaiian? … As a cheap flight lover I hope we don’t see any more mergers, but hey it’s fun to speculate!”

Published December 4, 2023

Last updated December 19, 2023

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