Alaska Airlines has finalized a $1.9 billion stock and debt deal to acquire Hawaiian Airlines. This move sets the stage for a substantial transformation in cargo transportation for Amazon, a major player in e-commerce. This partnership between Alaska Airlines and Amazon promises new avenues for freighter investment, according to Alaska’s CEO.
As part of the agreement, Hawaiian Airlines began using an Airbus A330-300 converted freighter for Amazon cargo operations between Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and its West Coast hub in San Bernardino, starting in early October. This initiative aligns with the terms of the agreement to enhance cargo operations. This initiative has been in effect as part of the collaboration. This marked Hawaiian’s entry into freighter operations under a contract to operate nine more converted aircraft on behalf of Amazon.
Alaska Airlines and Amazon Partnership: Transforming Cargo Operations and Fueling Fleet Expansion
This move by Alaska Airlines, parent company of Hawaiian, allows them to explore new horizons with Amazon, aiming to diversify their business. Alaska currently operates a small fleet of four freighter aircraft, primarily between Alaska and the continental U.S. The addition of the larger A330 freighters is expected to expand their fleet to 15 aircraft by early 2025.
Alaska Air CEO Ben Minicucci expressed the company’s intent to explore further freight opportunities, citing potential long-term prospects. The collaboration with Amazon brings additional benefits, such as establishing a Midwest pilot base. It also opens up more lucrative opportunities for pilots to operate widebody aircraft.
Industry insiders see potential in this partnership, highlighting Alaska’s proven track record in freighter operations. However, they underscore the need for Alaska’s commitment to long-term collaboration with Amazon, especially post-merger. This is because Hawaiian’s support for the Amazon deal might not necessarily carry over.
Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines Merger Prospects and Regulatory Challenges
Beyond the freight partnership with Amazon, the merger between Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines presents synergies and cost-saving opportunities, especially in cargo operations. The strategic union positions Alaska Airlines as the fifth largest U.S. carrier, providing access to Hawaiian’s significant routes to Asia and expanding services to Hawaii. This move is expected to enhance the airline’s overall reach and service offerings.
The deal is contingent on approval from Hawaiian shareholders and antitrust regulators. The Justice Department, known for its stringent stance on airline consolidation, exemplified by its ongoing lawsuit regarding JetBlue’s merger with Spirit Airlines, will play a crucial role in the process.