Southwest Airlines is increasing the pace of its Hawaii routes roll out. The airline has announced a new route between mainland USA and Hawaii, brought forward the start date of previously announced new routes and is increasing frequencies on existing routes. As Ben Mutzabaugh from The Points Guy notes, Southwest looks like it is making up for lost time in Hawaii after facing some hurdles following its first flight to the Aloha State earlier this year.
Southwest hits headwinds in 2019
Southwest Airlines began flying to Hawaii from Oakland (California) in March 2019. In addition, inter-island flights were launched. The airline had announced plans for a reasonably swift ramping up of services, including flights from Sacramento and San Diego to Hawaii, but the 737 MAX grounding put the brakes on that. Southwest Airlines is the largest operator of 737 MAXs in the United States and has 34 MAXs sitting idle, representing 5% of its fleet and impacting on some 150 flights a day.
Consequently, much of Southwest’s planned route growth in 2019 was put on hold. But the Dallas based airline is pivoting its attention back to Hawaii with a raft of announcements yesterday, Thursday, September 26, 2019.
Lots of Southwest love for Sacramento
Sacramento is back in Southwest’s spotlight. The previously announced Sacramento-Honolulu-Sacramento flights due to start on January 19, 2020, will now be brought forward to November 10, 2019. These flights will operate daily, pushing back from Sacramento mid-morning to arrive in Honolulu mid-afternoon. The Sacramento bound flights will leave Honolulu just after lunch for a mid-evening touchdown in Sacramento.
The big news is a new daily service between Sacramento and Kahului on Maui. The daily service will commence on March 7, 2020.
The Sacramento-Kahului-Sacramento schedule will be as follows;
Southwest Airlines have their MAXs scheduled to fly this route, taking a punt the aircraft will be back in service by March 2020. But the airline does note that it may have to operate the route will an alternate aircraft.
More inter-island flights
Southwest Airlines had also previously announced a new inter-island service between Honolulu and Lihue on Kauai. It was set to begin in early 2020 but Southwest has brought its launch forward to November 10, 2019.
Southwest Airlines is also stepping up the frequencies of existing flights between mainland USA and Hawaii.
In a statement provided to Simple Flying, Adam Decaire of Southwest Airlines said;
“Demand is strong for our Hawaii service and we’re not just increasing those routes to daily service for our customers, we’re also moving up our timeline on two routes set to begin in January, and instead will fly them this year.”
The routes set to go daily from March 7, 2020, are;
- San Jose-Lihue-San Jose
- San Jose-Kona-San Jose
In a nutshell, by the end of March 2020, Southwest will have a far more comprehensive schedule between mainland USA and Hawaii. At a glance;
- Oakland-Honolulu-Oakland flights will be double daily
- Oakland-Kahului-Oakland flights will be double daily
- Oakland-Kona-Oakland flights will be daily
- Oakland-Lihue-Oakland flights will be daily
- San Jose-Honolulu-San Jose flights will be daily
- San Jose-Kahului-San Jose flights will be daily
- San Jose-Kona-San Jose flights will be daily
- San Jose-Lihue-San Jose flights will be daily
- Sacramento-Honolulu-Sacramento flights will be daily
- Sacramento-Kahului-Sacramento flights will be daily
In addition to their inter-island schedule, that’s not a bad roll out for an airline that only started flights to Hawaii this year. While Southwest Airlines has its critics, it is demonstrating some commitment to the Aloha State