For years, Southwest, which already flies more domestic passengers than American, Delta, or United, has been known to have aspirations to fly to Hawaii. Last night, the company made those intentions official.
In a news release, Southwest announced plans to launch service between the mainland and Hawaii in 2018. The airline began receiving Boeing’s new 737 MAX aircraft earlier this month, and will work to obtain FAA approval to operate the new planes over water, as will be required for the new Hawaii flights.
Beyond the hardware details, specifics of the new service are frustratingly few, raising a handful of questions:
- Which cities in California and Hawaii will be served?
- What is the launch date for service?
- When will tickets go on sale?
- Will meals be served on the 5-plus-hour flights?
- What will prices be?
To those and other questions, the airline’s only response is, “Service details are to be announced at a later date.”
The Southwest Effect
In Southwest’s official statement, a company manager is quoted as follows: “The unmatched combination of our People and low fares with nothing to hide will be a game-changer in the U.S. to Hawaii market.” Predictable hyperbole, sure. But the reference to low fares is a key element in this story. It’s not just any airline starting new Hawaii service; it’s Southwest.
Southwest is justly famous for the Southwest Effect—a reduction in airfares and an increase in travel demand in any market that Southwest enters. So there’s every reason to expect that Southwest’s entry into the Hawaii market will force other airlines to lower their fares, a boon to Hawaii-bound travelers, whether they ever fly Southwest or not.
Mahalo, Southwest Airlines.
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.