In a surprising twist, Alaska wants to buy Hawaiian.
Alaska Air Group will buy struggling Hawaiian Airlines in the latest round of U.S. airline consolidation.
The Seattle-based group will buy Hawaiian for $18 per share in an all cash transaction valued at $1.9 billion including Hawaiian’s debt. Alaska Air Group, which owns Alaska Airlines and regional Horizon Air, will continue to operate Hawaiian as an independent brand and airline within the group. It will remain based in Seattle and led by CEO Ben Minicucci.
“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,” Minicucci said in a statement Sunday.
Hawaiian CEO Peter Ingram added: “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.”
Alaska said it plans to expand Hawaiian’s Honolulu hub to enable “greater international connectivity for West Coast travelers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”
Alaska is the sixth largest U.S. airline by seats, and Hawaiian is the 10th largest in 2023, according to Cirium Diio schedule data. Together they would be the fifth largest carrier behind American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. And, if JetBlue Airways and Spirit win court approval of their proposed merger, they’d be the fifth largest and Alaska-Hawaiian would be the sixth.
Whether the Alaska-Hawaiian deal can win U.S. Justice Department approval remains the be seen. The regulator has taken a firm stance against consolidation in the airline industry. It successfully sued to unwind the American and JetBlue alliance in the northeast, and has gone to trial to block JetBlue’s proposed takeover of Spirit.
This is a developing story and will be updated.