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Japan Airlines not giving up on Hawaiian joint venture

Japan Airlines (JAL) remains hopeful of its proposed joint venture with Hawaiian Airlines, even after US regulators turned down the carriers’ request for antitrust immunity.

“Although this initial announcement is discouraging for both JAL and Hawaiian Airlines, we continue to believe the proposed joint venture has the potential to bring additional travel choices and benefits to our mutual customers,” the carrier tells Cirium.

“Therefore, the two airlines will carefully review the preliminary decision and consider future actions.”

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a tentative approval for the proposed joint venture on 3 October but it stopped short of granting antitrust immunity.

"The department requires airlines to make a strong showing that the proposed alliance would generate substantial public benefits that are not otherwise possible to achieve – and that the proposed alliance is likely to do so quickly after a grant of [antitrust immunity],” it said.

The carriers’ joint venture goals include expanding route networks, improving online services, optimising flight schedules, increasing capacity, and improving frequent flyer mile services. The agreement would impact flights between Hawaii and Japan, along with connecting flights from Hawaii via Japan to 10 other nations in Asia.

Hawaiian responded that the tentative approval "overlooks the importance of antitrust immunity that major global airline alliances already enjoy, harming a small US carrier like Hawaiian by preventing it from being able to compete on equal footing and offer more competitive choices to travellers.”

It says it intends on emphasising to the DOT the consumer value of its request for antitrust immunity.

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