It’s been a long time coming, but Southwest Hawaii flights are looking like they’ll be ready to go potentially as soon as March. This will make the start of Southwest Hawaii service just in time for Spring Break, which is probably the best news many of us have heard for some time.
After previously reporting that the launch could slip into the second quarter if the shutdown didn’t end within a week, the US government went and reopened just in the nick of time. Now, if all goes to plan, Southwest Hawaii flights are looking on track to launch within the next two months.
A spokesperson for the airline commented:
“Our hope would be to be able to sell by the end of February and potentially fly in March.”
Updates from Southwest suggest their Hawaii flights will be sold in the region of $99 – $139 each way. These will be highly competitive and are sure to launch a fare war for routes to the islands. In terms of launch airports and destinations, the latest update from Southwest says:
“Our initial intention is to begin Hawaii nonstop service from Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC), and Sacramento (SMF). From California, you can reach Honolulu, HI (Oahu), Kahului, HI (Maui), Kona, HI (Island of Hawaii), and Lihue, HI (Kauai). We also intend to provide interisland service, so you can fly between the Hawaiian Islands with us, too.”
More Californian cities are likely to come soon after, with provision already being made at Los Angeles. With JetBlue cutting back service to Long Beach, it’s possible Southwest will take these slots for Hawaii services in due course. Outside of California, we predict Phoenix and Las Vegas will be added a bit later on.
Initially they’ll be using their existing 737-800s for the start of the Southwest Hawaii service, but as they bring the 737-MAX 8 into service, they’ll almost certainly transition to these aircraft. If they start using the 737 MAX 7 on the route, this will bring cities like Denver, Chicago and Houston into range, although the West Coast will still miss out.
What could go wrong?
The next two months are crucial if Southwest want to launch Hawaii flights by March to catch Spring Breakers heading south. If they don’t get going by then, it’s not the best idea to begin service in April or May, as those are traditionally low cost and low demand seasons.
If they don’t make schedule to launch in March, Southwest will probably delay the route until June when the market picks up again.
Although things are looking positive for the launch of Southwest Hawaii flights, there is still an awful lot that could scupper a launch in March. Should the US government shut down again, should there be a certification issue or some other rubber stamping problem, the tight schedule could be missed.
The FAA has now approved ETOPS plans and procedures for the route, so it’s literally just the last pieces of paper which needs to be signed off. There remain some simulation exercises and staff training to be done, but hopefully all this will happen pretty quickly.
Southwest are ready to fly. The have staff in Hawaii, flight schedules set and have even made provision for a Los Angeles flight crew base for Hawaii, due to be added later in the year.
Schedule changes at Hawaii
In other Southwest news, they’ve released some seasonal schedule changes as part of their extended booking schedule which takes us up to October 1st.
One major change is that the airline has dropped Mexico City as a destination. The route change will take effect from 30th March 2019. Gary Kelly has said that this is due to a refocusing of efforts on leisure destinations; Mexico City is seen as primarily a business route.
“Better performing destinations for us right now are the leisure destinations,” Kelly said. “Mexico City was showing very nice improvement. It’s much more of a business market. And given where we are right now, we just have better business opportunities in terms of deploying that capacity. “
They’re the third North American airline to drop this destination, after Alaska and WestJet abandoned their routes last year.
Other route changes are either new routes for the season, or returning routes usually offered during the summer. They all start on August 10th and operate either just on a Saturday or on Saturdays and Sundays. The routes are:
- Dallas Love-Corpus Christi, Texas
- Richmond, Virginia-Tampa, Florida
- Hartford, Connecticut-Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Buffalo, New York-Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Boise, Idaho- Chicago Midway
- Newark, New Jersey-Orlando, Florida
- Richmond, Virginia-Orlando, Florida
- Des Moines, Iowa-Phoenix
We’re super excited for the new Hawaii service, and are keeping everything crossed that March is attainable. Will you be flying Hawaii for Spring Break?