The planned joint venture between Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) hit a snag as the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) declined to grant antitrust immunity citing the public would not benefit from the joint venture.

Accord to a show cause order by the US DOT, both airlines’ joint venture was approved. However, without the antitrust immunity the carriers will not be able to coordinate prices and schedules.

"The benefits described in the application do not meet the department’s threshold of providing public benefits that could not otherwise be attained," the US DOT stated.

"The department requires airlines to make a strong showing that the proposed alliance would generate substantial public benefits that are not otherwise possible to achieve – and that the proposed alliance is likely to do so quickly after a grant of (antitrust immunity)," the DOT added.

After the show case order, both airlines (Hawaiian and JAL) have up to October 17 to respond to the findings.

Hawaiian and JAL first applied to form their joint venture in June 2018 covering connections in Japan to 28 Japanese and Asia/Pacific destinations for Hawaiian customers. JAL customers would be able to make connections in Honolulu to 6 inter-island flights in Hawaii.

In a statement, Hawaiian Airlines responding to the findings saying: “The tentative decision recognizes the consumer benefits of our joint venture, but it overlooks the importance of antitrust immunity that major global airline alliances already enjoy, harming a small U.S. carrier like Hawaiian by preventing it from being able to compete on equal footing,”

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