Southwest Airlines Continues Hawaii Expansion Following Initial Success

Following the success of its initial services to, from and within Hawaii, Southwest Airlines is planning to expand its services in the New Year. Announced yesterday, the expansion will see more routes added from the West Coast to the islands, as well as adding more inter-island frequencies.

southwest airlines
Southwest launch new Hawaii services. Photo, Ken Lund – Flickr

Almost five months to the day since Southwest launched their Hawaii flights, and by all accounts, things have been going pretty well for the Dallas based carrier. Its second-quarter earnings call saw CEO Kelly calling demand for Hawaii “robust”, citing higher than expected load factors, outpacing the rest of the carrier’s network.

However, expansion plans have been slow in coming forward due to the grounding of the 737 MAX. With Southwest the world’s biggest operator of the type, the carrier is down 34 operating aircraft and has not been delivered many that were expected by now out of its 286 remaining orders. Nevertheless, Kelly promised expansion, saying at the earnings call that Southwest is “excited to resume growth plans next month with the first of several intended announcements.”

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The MAX will not fly for Southwest until January. Photo: Southwest

And an announcement they did make. Yesterday, Southwest announced the first of its future expansion plans, which sees more flights between the mainland and the islands, as well as additional services between the islands too.

Details of the new flights

Starting in January 2020, Southwest is offering a new daily flight between Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and Honolulu. This is the airline’s first island route out of Sacramento, and will launch on January 19th 2020 with a daily frequency.

As well as this, Southwest is adding to their San Jose and Oakland services with twice-weekly flights from each West Coast airport to Kona and Lihue. From Oakland, in addition to twice daily Kahului and Honolulu services, passengers can now travel to Kona on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday or to Lihue on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

From San Jose, Kona will be served once a day on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and Lihue once a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All these new services will launch on either January 19th of the 21st.

Hawaii welcomes first commercial Southwest flight
Southwest will operate more interisland flights too. Photo: Southwest Media.

Southwest has also added capacity on interisland flights, effectively doubling the number of flights between the Hawaiian islands. In total, from 19th January, there will be a total of 34 daily departures on interisland routes, including new services between Honolulu and Lihue as well as Honolulu and Hilo, four times per day. Kahului and Kona will be connected daily in each direction.

It had been expected that San Diego would be announced as a new Hawaii route. However, Southwest has said that this will come later.

$99 if you book today

Travelers keen to head off to the Rainbow State but on a tight budget will be pleased to hear about Southwest’s promotional fare rates for these routes. For today only, Southwest is releasing a limited number of tickets from Sacramento, San Jose and Oakland to Hawaii for just $99.

However, there are some strict rules which could help to know if you’re searching for a bargain. The cheapest fares will only be offered for travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, depending on the route. The seats are limited and can only be booked for travel between 21st January and 4th March, so no spring break fun to be had, yet.

Are you happy to see more routes to Hawaii from Southwest? Will you be trying to book a $99 fare? Let us know how you get on in the comments!