Eight plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma International) in a bid to block its planned merger with Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu). The complaint to prohibit the acquisition, alleging a violation of the United States’ Clayton Antitrust Act, was lodged at the US District Court in Hawaii on April 15.

"Alaska’s proposed acquisition of Hawaiian not only violates federal law because it may 'substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly' in multiple markets in the passenger airlines industry, but it could also threaten Hawaiʻi’s economy and the well-being of Hawaiʻi’s people," a US Department of Transportation (DOT) filing reads, partly quoting Section 7 of the antitrust act.

Alaska Air Group, the parent entity of Alaska Airlines, is also a defendant. In December 2023, it announced it would acquire Hawaiian Airlines from Hawaiian Holdings in a USD1.9 billion takeover deal. Aside from legal challenges, the transaction remains subject to approval from the US authorities.

The plaintiffs in the matter include Warran Yoshimoto (Honolulu, HI), Kristin Barroga (Honolulu, HI), Sean Kettley (Kailua, HI), Carolyn Fjord (Winters, CA), Don Freeland (Thousand Palms, CA), Don Fry (Colorado Springs, CO), Bill Rubinsohn (Jenkintown, PA), and Clyde S Stensrud (Kirkland, WA). The filing describes each as an airline passenger and says some are former travel agents.

Alleging a breach of the Clayton Antitrust Act, the filing declares that the "plaintiffs bring this action for both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against [the] defendants' proposed acquisition of Hawaiian and seek an order prohibiting Alaska from acquiring Hawaiian."

Specifically, it alleges the merger may (i) eliminate actual and potential competition between Alaska and Hawaiian; (ii) substantially lessen competition in general among other airlines; (iii) cause ticket fares and ancillary fares to be higher than they otherwise could be; (iv) lower cause lower industry capacity; (v) lessen consumer choice; (vi) lessen service; (vii) increase coordination among Alaska Airlines and its remaining competitors; and (viii) prompt job layoffs, significant economic impacts on the State of Hawaii, and fewer frequencies inter-island, from Hawaii to the mainland, and from Hawaii to Asia and the Pacific.

The plaintiffs asked the court to find that the proposed merger breaches Section 7 of the Clayton Antitrust Act, issue a finding that it breaches US public policy, and issue a permanent injunction blocking the merger. They are also seeking an award of costs.

An Alaska Airlines spokesperson told ch-aviation that such lawsuits are normal in public company mergers and declined to provide any further comment.