Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are trying to ground new competitor go!, claiming its parent Mesa Air Group illegally used confidential information to launch the new regional carrier.
Go! has been operating Bombardier CRJs since June in a bid to undercut inter-island service from Aloha, Hawaiian and a smaller turboprop operator, Island Air. Its rock-bottom fares, starting at $19, have won acceptance by the flying public but have also encountered a flurry of lawsuits by two of the airlines and a web-based "don't fly go!" campaign by employees at all three carriers.
Hawaiian first sued Mesa in February, claiming it had put itself forward as a potential buyer when Hawaiian was in bankruptcy last year and used its time looking at Hawaiian's books to garner secrets that it later used to launch the new rival. A judge said in early October that Hawaiian may have a case but decided against an injunction requested by Hawaiian that would have grounded go! because Hawaiian has not yet met the "stringent standard" required for an injunction. Hawaiian chief executive Mark Dunkerley says although preliminary relief was not granted the carrier is "confident that at trial we will win the injunctive relief we've requested, along with substantial damages for the injury that Mesa has caused Hawaiian".
Aloha has since filed similar charges in a separate case, alleging Mesa also breached confidentiality agreements while examining Aloha during its bankruptcy. Aloha chief executive Dave Banmiller says that "Mesa came to Hawaii under false pretences, making false promises" and wants to drive Aloha out of business by charging fares that are below actual cost. Mesa responds that the lawsuits are an illegal campaign to hobble its business.
Island Air has not yet filed its own lawsuit but says go's launch has forced it to return a 70-seat turboprop and shelve plans to add two more.