In a deal worth at least US$1.9 billion, oneworld member Alaska Airlines will acquire Hawaiian Airlines, greatly expanding the reach of the combined company across the US. But the question on the tips of everyone’s tongues is whether the merger will grant oneworld benefits to Hawaiian Airlines – and the answer is that it will happen in some capacity.

Both brands will continue to exist, but operate under a ‘single platform’ for greater efficiency. Honolulu will become a ‘key Alaska Airlines hub’ and services to Hawaii will expand. Visitors and locals will be able to benefit from a greater range of non-stop or one-stop connections between the island state and the continental US.

Oneworld tie-up in the works

Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines will eventually share a ‘single, compelling loyalty’ program.

In a media release, Alaska Airlines indicates that Hawaiian Airlines’ loyalty members will ‘connect’ with enhanced oneworld benefits. At a minimum, we expect this will include the ability to earn and use Hawaiian miles on all oneworld partner airlines, as well as reciprocal elite benefits across all 29 member carriers, as well. Yes, it also means you could also use Qantas Points to book Hawaiian Airlines flights sometime in the future.

Alaska Airlines hasn’t specifically said how Hawaiian Airlines’ connection with oneworld will take shape. But based on the wording of the press release, our bets are on Hawaiian Airlines eventually becoming a full member by virtue of sharing a loyalty program with Alaska Airlines, rather than joining as an ‘oneworld connect’ partner such as Fiji Airways.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787 cabin
The Boeing 787 heralds in a new chapter at Hawaiian Airlines.
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Both airlines: stronger together

Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, is eager to expound on the benefits of this collective journey.

“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. Our two airlines are powered by incredible employees, with 90+ year legacies and values grounded in caring for the special places and people that we serve.”

Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines’ President and CEO, echoes the sentiments.

“With the additional scale and resources that this transaction with Alaska Airlines brings, we will be able to accelerate investments in our guest experience and technology, while maintaining the Hawaiian Airlines brand.”

Only 3% of both airlines’ routes overlap, meaning the networks will be ‘highly complementary’.

Both parties are seeking the relevant regulatory approvals in early 2024, with the merger expected to be complete in another 12-18 months after that in 2025.

The biggest hurdle this merger might have is the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Earlier in the year, the DOJ broke up the Northeast Alliance between JetBlue and American Airlines, ruling it uncompetitive. Undoubtedly, the Alaska/Hawaiian merger will undergo similar scrutiny.

What about Virgin Australia’s partnership with Hawaiian?

Hawaiian Airlines becoming part of the oneworld family might not necessarily affect Virgin Australia’s partnership with the airline. After all, Qatar Airways – a major oneworld member – is also a partner of Virgin Australia while still offering some reciprocal perks to Qantas passengers.

Don’t expect any changes for now, including the ability to use Velocity Points on Hawaiian Airlines points. But if the deal is approved and comes to a close, then it is possible that we’ll eventually see Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Australia part ways. After all, the current partnership is light on reciprocal benefits.

This is a breaking news article and we will update it with new developments.

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Hawaiian Airlines to combine with Alaska Airlines was last modified: December 4th, 2023 by Brandon Loo