Aloha, Hawaiian seek interisland immunity

HONOLULU -- Aloha and Hawaiian airlines are asking the Transportation Department to give them antitrust immunity through Oct. 1, 2003, to coordinate and reduce capacity on interisland flights.

The immunity would not give the airlines permission to coordinate or discuss flight schedules and fares, although the agreement does provide for a "balancing payment" if the cuts were to give one of the carriers a "disproportionate" share of traffic.

The carriers, who submitted their application July 31, said the agreement also includes a guarantee that capacity coordination would not eliminate service on any city-pair.

Without the short-term immunity on capacity, the airlines said, the interisland flights "will continue to be unprofitable and thus unsupportable."

Neither airline earned a net profit on its overall interisland operations in 1999 or 2000, even though those were two of the most profitable years for the U.S. airline industry, they said.

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