WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is giving tentative approval to Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines working more closely together but won’t give the airlines antitrust immunity.

The Transportation Department said Thursday it plans to let the airlines sell each other’s flights and coordinate marketing and frequent-flyer programs for service between Hawaii and Japan.

N582HA Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-33A ER on way to HNL airport over Ewa.
The approval for more coordination between Japan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines only covers routes to Asia rather than routes to the mainland. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The approval also covers routes from Hawaii to 10 other Asian countries, including China and South Korea, if passengers stop in Japan on the way. It would not cover flights to or from the U.S. mainland.

Without antitrust immunity, however, the airlines won’t be able to coordinate prices and schedules. American, Delta and United have antitrust immunity for partnerships with foreign carriers.

Hawaiian Airlines, in a statement released Thursday, said, “We are disappointed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s preliminary ruling to not grant antitrust immunity to our joint venture application with Japan Airlines.

“The tentative decision recognizes the consumer benefits of our joint venture, but it overlooks the importance of antitrust immunity that major global airline alliances already enjoy, harming a small U.S. carrier like Hawaiian by preventing it from being able to compete on equal footing and offer more competitive choices to travelers between Hawai’i, Japan and beyond.”

The Transportation Department will make a final decision after a 14-day comment period.

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