Yesterday, after a delay of nearly seven months, Southwest Airlines finally launched its flight connecting San Diego with Hawaii. The route was due to launch in April but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent travel restrictions.
You can now flight from San Diego to Honolulu non-stop on a Southwest flight. The new route departs San Diego at 08:00 local time with a flight time of six hours and twenty minutes, landing in Honolulu at 12:20. The return flight leaves Honolulu at 12:45 and arrives back in San Diego at 20:30 after just under six hours.
Originally, Southwest had planned to launch the new route in April. However, travel restrictions and the global downturn meant the airline was forced to delay its plans just weeks before the launch. However, the airline has decided that now it the right time to launch.
Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President, and CEO told the San Diego Union Tribute,
“We’ve been anticipating this route for many months and welcome Southwest’s new daily service to Honolulu. There has always been high demand for leisure travel to both San Diego and Honolulu, and with a military presence in each city, a desire to visit friends and family. We appreciate Southwest’s continued investment in our city as they add Hawaii to their expanding list of nonstop markets from San Diego.”
Hawaii’s newly opened borders
The decision to launch comes as the state of Hawaii is trying its best to encourage visitors to the islands. Just last month, a new policy came into force, stating that anyone arriving in Hawaii with a negative COVID-19 test will not need to isolate upon arrival. Previously, a mandatory 14-day isolation period meant few people were willing to visit.
Currently, the new rules only apply to travelers from within the US. However, starting from tomorrow, the same courtesy will be extended to Japanese tourists. Hawaii relies on tourism for much of its economy and hopes to boost tourist numbers over the coming months to help the island recover from months of restrictions.
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Flights to Hawaii
Although Southwest’s nonstop flight to Hawaii might be new to the airline, it isn’t the only non-stop flight connecting San Diego to Hawaii. Both Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines offer the same route. However, both airlines suspended the route earlier this year at the height of the pandemic.
Southwest has also announced plans to launch flights to Maui, the other major island in the Hawaiian chain. Like the flight to Honolulu, the Maui flight was due to launch in April of this year but has been delayed indefinitely. The flight does not appear on any of Southwest’s schedule, which run-up to April 2021.
Southwest only launched flights to Hawaii at the start of this year. But it seems keen to get its new routes up and running without further delay. The airline launched with fares as low as $49 for flights connecting California to the islands. Competitive prices are something that Hawaiian Airlines will have to keep an eye on. Previously Hawaiian had very little competition on leisure flights terminating or originating in Hawaii.
Do you think Hawaiian Airlines should feel threatened by Southwest? Will the new routes be a success for Southwest? Let us know what you think in the comments.