Hawaii is a hugely popular tourist destination from Japan, and the number of daily flights between the sets of islands is staggering. For example, just between Tokyo and Honolulu there are flights by ANA, China Airlines, Delta, JAL, Korean Air, and United. And we’re not just talking once daily flight from each of those carriers, but rather ANA, Hawaiian, and JAL all operate three daily flights.
ANA will be taking delivery of their first of three A380s in 2019, and their plan is to use them exclusively between Japan and Hawaii. That’s how big of a market it is. Heck, they’re even painting their first A380 with a huge Hawaiian green sea turtle, which is a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Hawaii.
Today there’s news of an interesting shake-up when it comes to the partnerships between airlines operating in the markets. Up until now, Hawaiian and ANA have had a partnership. It wasn’t the closest partnership out there, but the airlines have codeshared, and there have been opportunities for reciprocal mileage earning and redemptions.
Well, Hawaiian is about to enter a much more comprehensive partnership for travel between Hawaii and Japan, and it’s not with ANA.
Hawaiian and Japan Airlines announced today that they are entering into a partnership as of March 25, 2018, which will see the two airlines eventually operating a joint venture, subject to government approval. As part of this, the two airlines plan to align schedules, offer reciprocal benefits, and codeshare on regional flights within both airlines’ route networks.
Here’s what the press release says about what can be expected in the near-term:
- JAL guests will have unlimited access to Hawaiian’s vast neighbor island and Japan-Hawai’i network, including non-stop flights between Sapporo and Honolulu.
- Hawaiian Airlines will have full access to JAL’s domestic network, which includes Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Aomori.
- Hawaiian’s Japan-to-Hawai’i flights will be offered as new options within Japan Airlines’ wholly owned subsidiary, JALPAK, a high reputable package tour operator in Japan.
- JAL Mileage Bank and HawaiianMiles members will be able to earn miles on the codeshare flights. Further opportunities for accrual and redemption of mileage will be expanded at a later date.
- Guests will have access to both airlines’ lounges, and when Hawaiian has completed its planned relocation to Terminal 2 at Tokyo Narita Airport, guests of each airline will be able to seamlessly transfer between each carrier’s networks.
Joint ventures are always a blessing and a curse. On one hand, reciprocity is nice, and it’s great to be able to earn and redeem miles on more airlines. On the other hand, airlines forming a joint venture is the equivalent of eliminating a competitor, as the airlines fix prices and schedules, so often they lead to higher pricing.
I’m not sure what exactly went into all this, though what’s most interesting here is that Hawaiian has been partnering with ANA up until now, but will be dumping them (or is being dumped — we don’t know), and is entering into a deep partnership with an airline they didn’t previously work with.
I don’t know enough about the dynamic between the airlines to know if this was because ANA didn’t want to get more involved with Hawaiian, if Hawaiian wasn’t happy with their partnership with ANA, if JAL approached Hawaiian with a plan they couldn’t turn down, or what.