Southwest Airlines is adding new routes between Hawaii and mainland USA. The airline will now fly between San Jose and both Lihue and Kona.
A fast rollout to the Hawaiian Islands
The new routes continue an aggressive expansion of services into the islands by the Dallas based low-cost carrier. Southwest Airlines began services to Hawaii in March 2019, promising to shake up the cosy playing field that then existed on routes between the islands and California.
It has certainly done that. As its initial flights rolled out, Southwest Airlines increased the available seats between Hawaii and California by 30%. Fares between Hawaii and California fell by an average of 17% across all carriers in the first half of 2019.
On the back of those first flights between Honolulu and Oakland, Southwest Airlines has steadily rolled out new routes. It now flies to five destinations in Hawaii from several airports in California including San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco. Southwest currently offers 38 flights a day between Hawaii and mainland USA.
Two new flights from San Jose
The latest additions to Southwest’s Hawaiian route network now means that San Jose hosts Southwest flights to the four key Hawaiian islands. The airline flies daily between San Jose and both Honolulu and Kahului. Now Southwest is adding a four day a week service between San Jose and Lihue and a three day a week service between San Jose and Kona.
Both the new services will ramp up to daily services at the beginning of March 2020 to cater for the busy summer season.
Between now and then, flights between San Jose and Lihue will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Southwest flight WN2234 will push back from San Jose International Airport at 08:00, landing in Lihue at 12:00 with a total flying time of 6 hours. The flight will be operated by one of Southwest’s 175 seat Boeing 737-800s.
The return flights will depart on the same day at 13:45 with a 21:00 arrival back in San Jose. With the winds behind the aircraft, flying time back to California is a shorter 5¼ hours.
Flights between San Jose and Kona will initially operate on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday before reverting to daily in March.
The outbound flight, Southwest WN4032 will depart San Jose at 07:55 for the 6 hour flight to Kona, touching down at 11:50. This flight will also be operated by a Boeing 737-800.
The return flight will depart Kona on the same days, leaving at 13:35 for a 20:40 arrival into San Jose.
MAX grounding not a deterrent to Southwest’s Hawaiian growth
The ongoing 737 MAX saga has dampened Southwest’s growth ambitions across its entire network. News is breaking today that Boeing doesn’t anticipate having the MAX back in the air in North America before midyear. But Southwest seems resolutely committed to Hawaii. Following these new routes, Southwest has announced it is starting flights out of San Diego to Hawaii in April 2020.
With the northern hemisphere summer just over the horizon and the Hawaiian sun beckoning, Southwest’s cheap fares and cheerful service will keep drawing passengers, fuelling growth on its Hawaiian routes and boosting the Hawaiian tourism industry.