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Alaska Airlines Pilots Evaluating Hawaiian Merger

Rumor Mill Abuzz with Fleet Composition Guesses

A merger between Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines is coming to fruition, and the reception is, as it always is between separate pilot groups, cautious at best.

The Air Line Pilots Association weighed in with a somewhat benign comment, stating only that the Alaska Airlines Master Executive Council (ALA MEC) "evaluated the business case for this merger and what it may mean for pilots of both Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines as well as our passengers and other stakeholders."

Currently, pilots are just as much abuzz about how a combined Alaskan/Hawaiian fleet will be integrated, thanks to the latter's use of Boeing 717s. Hawaiian's hodgepodge fleet includes the smaller Boeing, in addition to Airbus A330s and A321s. Currently, there are about a dozen 787-9 Dreamliners on order, too, with options for even more. No word yet on many of the details, like what would happen to the Amazon freight deal that keeps the firm's converted A330 freighters so busy.

Alaska Airlines sports a roster of almost entirely Boeing 737 models, with some Embraer 175s in the mix to provide service to smaller routes and cities - Those in the sidelines and the pilot lounge see them as a fine alternative to the out-of-production, and somewhat unpopular Boeing 717s used for a similar purpose. Like any operational consideration though, there's a lot more to the equation than just "small planes for short hops" - The Boeing can fix more pax and more cargo, and the Hawaiian islands don't exactly have the throughput to add dozens of extra flights per day because an operator downsized its aircraft.

The fine print is far from in, and these mergers always tend to be a slow moving affair. Pilot seniority, fencing for bases, and fleet composition will all be shaken out in the process.

FMI: www.alpa.org

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