U.S. consumers sue to stop Alaska Air, Hawaiian Airlines merger

U.S. consumers sue to stop Alaska Air, Hawaiian Airlines merger

An Alaska Airlines airplane and a Hawaiian Airlines airplane at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. 

Eric Thayer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Alaska Air has been hit with a U.S. consumer lawsuit alleging that the carrier’s proposed $1.9 billion acquisition of rival Hawaiian Airlines will lead to higher prices, job layoffs and fewer flights.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in federal court in Hawaii by eight airline passengers from Hawaii, California and other states. Some of the plaintiffs are former travel agents.

The passengers said the Alaska Air deal, announced last year, will unlawfully harm air travel competition in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

“The current trend toward concentration, the lessening of competition and the tendency to create a monopoly in the airlines industry is unmatched, unparalleled, and dangerous,” the lawsuit said.

Representatives from Alaska Air, which is the only defendant, and Hawaiian Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit appears to be the first filed over the proposed deal.

In announcing the Hawaiian acquisition, Alaska Air said the combined company “will unlock more destinations for consumers and expand choice of critical air service options and access throughout the Pacific region.”

The deal is under antitrust review by the U.S. Justice Department. The airlines said in March that they “have been working cooperatively with the DOJ and expect to continue to do so.”

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on Tuesday.

The Biden-era Justice Department successfully sued to block JetBlue Airways‘ $3.8 billion agreement with Spirit Airlines. After a judge blocked the deal, the airlines last month called off the merger.

In another case, American Airlines has asked a U.S. appeals court to reverse a Boston federal judge’s decision that its now-scrapped U.S. Northeast partnership with JetBlue was anticompetitive. American Airlines said the ruling threatens other collaborations.

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