As part of the latest commitment, Alaska Airlines will expand to become the fifth largest U.S. airline with a nearly 400 narrow and widebody plane fleet.
Ultimately, while agreed and announced, a deal is still subject to regulatory approval. If approved, the organisation will be based in Seattle and led by current Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.
Breaking Down The Deal
Thanks to an agreement being reached between the pair, a deal is expected to officially close in the next 12 to 18 months following a firm statement.
A press release indicated that a deal would see Alaska Airlines acquire Hawaiian for a transactional value of approximately USD 1.9 billion, including USD 0.9 billion of Hawaiian Airlines’ net debt.
Alaska Airlines believes purchasing Hawaiian Airlines will substantially improve its reach to 138 destinations. However, this won’t be limited to these but a further 1,200 thanks to the Oneworld alliance.
Thanks to Hawaiian Airlines’ esteemed history and abundance of culture, Alaska Airlines notes this won’t disappear as it looks to retain the branding for this company. However, visible concerns are present thanks to the last time Alaska acquired a company in Virgin America and their fate.
Building upon 90+ years of legacy, Alaska says that the airlines explicitly rooted in the 49th and 50th states have always meant air travel has been hugely influential. Thus, the mission to carry people in the safest and best possible manner has been at the forefront.
Thanks to this deal, Honolulu is now slated to become a key hub for the combined airline. The belief is that Alaska Airlines can expand and reach new connections across Asia and the Pacific through Hawaii and then back towards the United States.
Just Some Of The Many Adjustments To Expect
Alaska Airlines says the complementary domestic, international, and cargo networks will position the company as a vast force on the West Coast and through Hawaii.
However, the preservation of the brands will be at the forefront. While Hawaiian will be integrated into a single operating platform to enable the remarkable levels of service to be enjoyed, the importance of the airline won’t be ignored.
Alaska Airlines says that additionally, for those within Hawaii, there’ll now be even more opportunities to connect to new destinations that were not previously accessible. This boasting, therefore, is a massive improvement for the people of the country and all surrounding areas.
For those swayed by the world of loyalty, the transaction between the two companies will see Hawaiian Airlines’ loyalty members essentially connected with that of Alaska Airlines. This is labelled as an industry-leading program.
Comments From Executives
This combination is an exciting next step in our collective journey to provide a better travel experience for our guests and expand options for West Coast and Hawai‘i travelers. 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. I am grateful to the more than 23,000 Alaska Airlines employees who are proud to have served Hawai‘i for over 16 years, and 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. We look forward to deepening this stewardship as our airlines come together, while providing unmatched value to customers, employees, communities and ownersBen Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO.
Immediate Public Reaction
An announcement of a deal taking place comes on a typically quiet Sunday in North America and is thus primarily filled with shock for most, with some concerns.
The large majority have always enjoyed the presence of Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines as separate entities rather than as a combined force. While this presents unique and exciting opportunities, it is also associated with risks.
Given Alaska Airlines’ track record with the takeover of Virgin America in the 2010s, reaction from the public has also seen concerns. While Alaska says it’ll continue keeping the brands their own entity while technically falling under the same company, a track record of tearing down Virgin America lies in their hands.
The Interesting Airbus Problem, Again.
However, thanks to Alaska Airlines acquiring the airline, Alaska has shifted away from the ‘All-Boeing’ operating title it has marketed for some time.
When Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America, it moved from its fleet of Boeing jets towards Airbus planes. The airline went as far as painting the jets in Alaska colours. However, it never felt thrilled with the operation of the type.
As 2024 approaches, the airline has already retired the A320 and A321 families as it simplified to just Boeing, a big decision, especially given the relatively young age of the A321neos retired. However, the airline will be forced to deal with this again as Hawaiian flies the A321neo, and the A330 plays a pivotal role in its longer-ranged operations.
While Hawaiian Airlines can be expected to introduce new aircraft, such as the 787, in the near term, it doesn’t immediately remove the need for Airbus-produced planes. This presents the question of what Alaska Airlines’ strategy with Hawaiian Airlines will be regarding its future fleet.
What Aircraft Does Alaska Airlines Currently Fly?
For its mainline fleet, the carrier currently flies only Boeing aircraft, a move that comes following the recent retirement of the last Airbus A321neo.
The 737 series remains the most critical per data, with variants spread across this family in active operation. Currently, the largest operational fleet measured by units in service is the 737-900ER, where 79 planes fly with an average age of 7.9 years.
However, the airline also has 62 737-9s, from the MAX family to its name, with the intention for this to grow in the future as it begins to say goodbye to some of its oldest 737 aircraft.
The 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 also all feature as part of the active fleet, with the average age of these aircraft types being upwards of 15 years.