Southwest Announces The Cities That Will Serve Hawaii

We keep creeping closer to a full picture of what Southwest Airlines’ Hawaii service will look like.  We knew which destinations in Hawaii they would fly to, even if I couldn’t get the title of the post right:

  • HNL Honolulu (island of Oahu)
  • OGG Kahului (Maui)
  • LIH Lihue (Kauai)
  • KOA Kona (Hawaii’s “Big Island”)

Now, we know which cities on the mainland will serve Hawaii:

None of these cities surprise me a whole lot.  Okay, maybe Sacramento.  I’ll admit, I’m a bit surprised by what’s absent.  There’s no Los Angeles area airports.  I can understand why they might not want to try to compete at LAX, though I haven’t done the research on flight prices out of there to Hawaii.  But, I thought they would take a stab at one of the secondary airports they serve in the region.  No, San Diego is not what I would consider a secondary airport for the region.

I had also thought there was a decent chance they might try to connect Phoenix to Hawaii given all their flow at PHX.

We still don’t know the routes, which cities will actually be connected.  Nor do we know the frequency of service.  I’m guessing that picture will come much more into focus over the next 60 days.

Southwest plans to start service using Boeing 737-800 airplanes and plan to transition to their new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.  The MAX is a more fuel-efficient aircraft that should serve the airline well, especially on the longer routes.  They’re not the only airline rolling out the MAX.  I had a chance to board one of the very first ones for a flight and found it to be fine for longer flights.

Island Service Coming

Southwest also confirmed that they plan to offer service in between the islands in Hawaii.  They haven’t announced which islands yet.  Some pricing pressure will be a welcome change.  Since Island Air ceased operating last year there hasn’t been a whole lot of competition.  There are plenty of carcasses of airlines prior to Southwest trying to launch intra-island service.

As I was thinking about intra-island service, there was a nagging though in the back of my head.  Jeffsetter crystallized that thought for me.  Southwest doesn’t have any small planes.  Whether it’s the 737-800 or the MAX, that’s a lot of seats to fly in between two islands.

Frequency is an important variable in most markets.  I’m not an expert on the intra-island Hawaii market.  I imagine there will be quite a few empty seats on those planes if they try to operate these flights with any sort of frequency.

The Final Two Pennies

Information continues to trickle out about Southwest’s Hawaii service.  We still don’t know the routes they’ll operate, but we should have more information soon.  Personally, I don’t think I’ll be flying Southwest to Hawaii unless the deals are phenomenal. They don’t have nonstop flights from Dulles or Reagan National airport to any of the California cities featuring Hawaii service.  That would mean an hour drive to Baltimore, and a couple of really long flights in coach.  When I finally do make it to Hawaii, I’m hoping to be laying down on the way!

All that being said, this is a big plus for the Southwest network.  Their fans have been clamoring for it for years.  Soon, they’ll have their wish!

The post Southwest Announces The Cities That Will Serve Hawaii was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. seat count wise … a HA 717 seating 128 (split 8/120) versus a WN 73G seating 143 isn’t *all* that different

    in terms of inter-island frequency, HA’s crazy schedule of 26-28x daily on HNL-OGG is more of a reflection that they lack the proper NB gauge for the route and has to fly far too many frequencies to satisfy demand. WN beginning with something like 5x daily on HNL-OGG should already be a competitive offering.

    I praise WN for trying something (inter-island against HA) that hasn’t worked for so many others earlier, but i just don’t see how their mainland-to-hawaii services eventually become the same ole’ run-of-the-mill operations that everyone else offers. (obviously UA is the craziest example because they offer nonstop service to Hawaii from EVERY SINGLE HUB, from GUM to EWR)

    1. henry, I guess if they used a 143-seat aircraft it wouldn’t be a big difference. I thought the smaller 737s in their fleet were going the way of the dodo bird. But, parking some of those in Hawaii makes sense. I’m guessing a single 737 could do 5X on a route like that with less than an hour of flying time. I do wonder how many planes they plan to dedicate to inter-island flying. Can’t wait to see what it looks like.

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