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Hawaiian alleges 'discriminatory' treatment at LAX

Hawaiian Airlines claims it is being discriminated against at Los Angeles International airport, saying larger competitors are receiving preferential treatment securing precious space at the notoriously constricted airport.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has asked Hawaiian to relocate to the under-construction Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) from terminal 5 in 2020, a move that would both inconvenience its passengers and increase costs by as much as "three-fold" at the airport, the Honolulu-based carrier said in a submission to the US Department of Transportation on Tokyo Haneda flights on 30 May.

Hawaiian calls the request the latest example of the operator's "discriminatory accommodation" practice, as relocating would allow American Airlines to consolidate its operations at LAX.

"LAWA is blatantly favoring large legacy airlines such as American, Delta and United to the competitive detriment of smaller carriers such as Hawaiian," the airline says. "Hawaiian's forced move to the MSC will irreparably harm Hawaiian's operations at LAX."

Also, following Hawaiian's 2017 move to terminal 5 from terminal 2 to accommodate Delta Air Lines, LAWA gave Hawaiian an "assurance" it would not need to move again until either the proposed terminals 0 or 9 open.

LAWA was not immediately available to comment on Hawaiian's allegations.

Hawaiian is a small player at LAX. The airline carried just over 1% of the 83.7 million passengers that passed through the airport in 2018, DOT data shows. By comparison, American carried 19.4% of passengers, Delta 16.3% and United Airlines 14.6%.

The carrier operates six daily flights to Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue from LAX, Cirium schedules data shows. Honolulu and Kahului are served with widebody Airbus A330-200 aircraft, while Kona and Lihue are served with narrowbody Airbus A321neo aircraft.

Hawaiian competes with American, Delta and United on all four of its LAX routes, and with Alaska Airlines in the Honolulu and Kahului markets, data shows.

The carrier argues moving to the midfield concourse would put it at a competitive disadvantage to competitors. For example, the facility will not have a domestic luggage system when it opens, requiring additional time to move luggage to and from a domestic terminal for Hawaiian.

In addition, a move would require Hawaiian passengers connecting to its codeshare partner JetBlue Airways to take a bus between terminals, the airline says. American, Alaska, Delta and United all offer in-terminal connections to passengers on their Hawaii flights.

LAX is a notoriously gate-tight airport, creating difficulties for all airlines. Executives at both American and United have said their respective carrier would grow more at the airport if they had the space.

LAWA is building the midfield concourse and proposed terminals 0 and 9 in an effort to enable further growth. In addition, it has contracted with Alaska, American, Delta and Southwest Airlines on major capital projects to expand and improve their respective terminal facilities.

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