Alaska Air announced Sunday a $1.9 billion deal to purchase Hawaiian Airlines. And as one of the eight carriers flying out of Fresno Air Terminal, the move begs the question — could direct flights to Hawaii from Fresno be on the itinerary?
The short answer is — it’s too early to know. Regulators still have to approve the deal that would make Alaska the fifth-largest airline in the U.S. The deal will take 12 to 18 months to close, according to a news release.
But Vikkie Calderon, public relations officer for FAT, said the airline would welcome expanded air service for Fresno.
“While the Fresno Airport currently has not been contacted about increased flights with Alaska’s purchase of Hawaiian Airlines, we support opportunities for expanded air service for Fresno,” Calderon said in an email to GV Wire. “Fresno Airport leadership continually markets to incumbent airlines as well as new airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines, in efforts to expand existing air service or attract new destinations.”
When Allegiant Cut Hawaii, So Went Fresno’s Direct Access
From 2012 to 2014, Allegiant Air offered direct flights to Hawaii out of Fresno. But in August 2014, Allegiant canceled flights to Hawaii from not just Fresno, but Stockton, Eugene, Oregon, and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Allegiant stopped flying to Hawaii altogether in 2017.
Alaska Air intends to keep the iconic Hawaiian Airlines branding, according to the release, something not often done when airlines are purchased. When Alaska purchased Virgin America, it replaced the Airbus A320 fleet for the Boeing 737, according to Forbes.
But expanding options for travel was one of the carrier’s goals. Alaska Air intends to triple the number of North American destinations from Hawaii, according to the release.
“This combination is an exciting next step in our collective journey to provide a better travel experience for our guests and expand options for West Coast and Hawai’i travelers,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO.