DOJ opposes Aloha-Hawaiian antitrust immunity

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is opposing the Aloha-Hawaiian request for temporary antitrust immunity on interisland routes.

Aloha and Hawaiian have asked the DOT for immunity through Oct. 1, 2003, to coordinate and reduce capacity on the routes.

The DOJ, however, on Aug. 30 urged the DOT to reject the application because the coordinated capacity reduction "will result in serious harm to consumers through higher fares and poorer service in some of the most heavily traveled city pairs in the U.S." The DOJ also concluded that there has been "no showing that such collusion on capacity is necessary to preserve air service in the interisland markets."

The DOJ acknowledged that interisland traffic has declined over the past several years, and took another hit from the post-Sept. 11 decline in air travel.

But the DOJ said the law on which the airlines are relying to receive antitrust immunity was meant only to protect against the "complete loss" of service, and "the available evidence shows that neither [carrier] is in imminent danger of failing" or pulling out of the interisland routes.

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