Hawaiian Airlines Dumps ANA, Announces New Joint Venture With JAL

Filed Under: Hawaiian, Japan Airlines

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 NagoyaFukuoka, 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.

Bottom line

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.

  1. NH was just having a light code-share agreement with HA to get easy feed without having to do much work.

    On my HND-CTS ANA flight last year, I’ve actually seen this American-looking family rushing off the plane at CTS to connect to the HA departure. Who knew Tokyo – Sapporo – Honolulu connections is actually a thing.

    But you gotta give them credit though. Between HA and JAL, they’ll have HNL nonstops to NRT HND NGO KIX CTS, and another Tokyo to Kona one. ANA will be flying the super jumbo in, but between ANA and UA it’s still 100% Tokyo – Honolulu and nothing else.

  2. the age old argument was that DL’s Japan to Guam/Hawaii bespoke routes cater to Japanese leisure beach traffic, and are supposedly unrelated to the fate of DL’s NRT hub.

    But with the recent announcement cancelling NRT-GUM, all of a sudden, flights NRT-Saipan or HNL-NRT/KIX/NGO aren’t so safe from the chopping block anymore.

  3. @jkealing – The AA-JAL joint venture I believe is for AA hubs +SFO on the mainland. AA only serves HNL to DFW/LAX/PHX so I suspect it’s all fine and clear. This new joint venture is probably better fitting anyway since UA does a LOT more flying out of HNL and has a decent presence in the Central and Western Pacific.

  4. “Further opportunities for accrual and redemption of mileage will be expanded at a later date.”
    I hope this ends up better than the crummy 1¢-ish redemption agreement they have with JetBlue

  5. Oooooh this is very nice. The most important bullet point for me is: “Hawaiian Airlines will have full access to JAL’s domestic network, which includes Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Aomori.” To be fair, using Hawaiian miles on anything but flights between Hawaiʻi and the u.s. Is bad but (1) a domestic flight in Japan costs at least 18,000 Hawaiian miles with ANA, (2) out of the whole domestic network that ANA runs, Hawaiian miles can be used to buy only 8 Hawaiian airlines/ANA codeshare flights, and (3) all flights need to either depart or arrive from haneda (source: http://hawaiianair.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/528/~/redeem-hawaiianmiles-on-partner-airlines).

  6. @JonW: @jkealing

    It also covers JAL service from non-AA hubs, including BOS, GUM, YVR and SAN to Japan, and LAX to KIX. I also believe, but am not 100% sure, that it includes AA’s LAX-SYD and seasonal LAX-AKL flights.

  7. HNL is my home and the Honolulu-Tokyo route is the second busiest International route out of the US behind only NY-London. It is immensely popular.

  8. Maybe ANA’s partner United wasn’t happy about the old deal or prevented it from going further, as United has a big operation in Honolulu.

  9. so HA does ground handling for NH in HNL. NH does ground handling for HA in Tokyo. NH is going to start hiring local agents in HNL. Wont be needing HA to ground handle. They getting ready for the A380. HA gets pissed and says go F yourself to NH. HA goes to JL. pisses NH off. NH pulls the partnership regardless of who ground handles. HA immediately sends a mktg team to Tokyo and next thing you know, press releasing it. done.

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