Shareholders of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc., parent entity of Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu), have approved the airline's planned merger with Alaska Air Group, Inc., parent entity of Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma International). Hawaiian Holdings said a shareholders' meeting was held on February 16, at which a "substantial majority" of stockholders voted in favour of the proposal.

“Stockholder approval of our transaction with Alaska is an important milestone toward combining our airlines,” Hawaiian Holdings President and CEO Peter Ingram said after the gathering.

The holdco's largest shareholders include Exchange Traded Concepts LLC with 13.83% of the airline's stock; BlackRock Advisors LLC with 9.2%; Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Co with 5.25%; The Vanguard Group, Inc. with 5.25%; Magnetar Financial LLC with 4.62%; and Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Inc. with 4.07%. The top ten shareholders hold just under 53.5% of the total stock on issue.

The two companies announced the merger in December 2023, in which Alaska Air Group will acquire Hawaiian Holdings at a price of USD18 per share, for a total of approximately USD1.9 billion. Alaska will also take on around USD900 million of Hawaiian's debt.

The merger remains subject to approval from US regulators and other customary closing conditions. Last week, ch-aviation reported that the US Department of Justice had requested additional information and documentary material about the tie-up from both airlines. US antitrust authorities have recently adopted an increasingly assertive stance on airline mergers and cooperation, including blocking a proposal from JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) to buy Spirit Airlines (NK, Fort Lauderdale International) and forcing JetBlue to unwind its so-called Northeast Alliance with American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth).

However, Alaska Air Group CEO Ben Minicucci has previously said the planned merger between his airline and Hawaiian Airlines is very different to the JetBlue/Spirit proposal, which potentially limited competition in the low-cost sector. Minicucci said Alaska and Hawaiian have similar business models and complementary networks with little overlap. He calls the planned acquisition pro-consumer and pro-competition.

Hawaiian Holdings has yet to file the formal results from last week's shareholders' meeting, saying the numbers still need to be confirmed by an independent inspector of elections.