Southwest Eyes Hawaii Expansion Post Coronavirus

Southwest is further expanding into the island state of Hawaii following the end of the current coronavirus crisis. The carrier is set to launch a fourth route to Hawaii from San Diego by June 7th.

Southwest is planning two new routes to Hawaii from San Deigo. Photo: Southwest Airlines

What are the details?

Southwest made a big splash many months ago when it launched its services to Hawaii. In a win for customers, it caused a dip in prices to the island state and put the mainline carriers and Hawaiian Airlines on notice.

So far, the carrier has launched the following services:

  • Oakland, California to Kauai, Kailua-Kona, Kahului, and Honolulu
  • Sacramento, California to Kahului and Honolulu
  • San Jose, California to Kauai, Kailua-kona, Kahului and Honolulu

Southwest has also launched inter-island routes connecting the various islands.

You may notice that all of these ‘Hawaii Gateway’ airports are all in Northern California centered around San Fransisco (but interestingly, not San Fransisco itself). Southwest will now go far south to San Deigo for its next Hawaii Gateway airport.

What will be the new route?

The carrier will be launching a new route on the 7th of June: San Deigo, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. From here, passengers will be able to travel on the Southwest inter-island service to reach other destinations.

Southwest Hawaii
The new service is connecting San Diego and Honolulu. Photo: GCmaps

The service will be daily once Southwest capacity returns to normal (see below), and take around six hours.

What about other Hawaii routes?

Due to the coronavirus, Southwest had reduced a great number of services between Hawaii and the mainland. Southwest’s EVP and CCO, Andrew Watterson, outlined how moving forward, the carrier would cut around 50% of all its flight but still maintain connections to all of its major destinations.

“Our Schedule Planners restructured service across our network, dropping flight activity by nearly 50% while maintaining service to all our domestic cities and preserving more than 80% of the itineraries we offered in the prior schedule.”

This is a reduction to 2,000 flights a day, down from a previous schedule of approximately 4,000 flights on weekdays, based on Southwest’s figures.

Southwest will also be returning Hawaiian services to normal:

  • On the same day as the San Diego launch (June 7th), Southwest will be resuming flights between Honolulu and San Jose as well as Honolulu and Sacramento.
  • This week, Southwest is resuming Oakland to Honolulu twice weekly.
  • On May 21st, Southwest will also be resuming Oakland to Maui.

“We continue to coordinate with the State of Hawaii and intend to resume our previous level of flying subject to a relaxation of restrictions.”

Southwest takes off from DIA
Southwest will be returning slowly back to regular service. Photo: Getty Images

Southwest has also been cautiously expanding international services since first suspending them on March 23rd.

  • The first international routes will return May 21st, with services to Cancun and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos as well as Montego Bay in Jamaica.
  • From there, Southwest will reopen more departing airports to Cancun and San Jose Del Cabo on June 7th. Additionally, Southwest will also open routes to specific Caribbean destinations (a full list is available here).

What do you think of this news story? Will you be flying to Hawaii from San Diego? Let us know in the comments.