Southwest Airlines has been teasing its plan to begin flights to Kauai and the Big Island ever since launching its first-ever flights to the Hawaiian islands earlier this year. Now those plans have crystallized
The airline announced this week it will start flights to Kauai (LIH) from both San Jose (SJC) and Oakland (OAK) in mid-January 2020. Around the same time, they’ll also start nonstop flights to Kona airport (KOA) on Hawaii’s Big Island from both California hubs.
Sacramento (SMF) will get its first nonstop flight to Hawaii with a route to Honolulu (HNL). And finally, Southwest is continuing the drumbeat of new inter-island service, adding flights between Kauai (LIH) and Honolulu (HNL), Kona (KOA) and Maui (OGG), and Honolulu (HNL) to Hilo (ITO) on the Big Island.
Here’s a look at all these new routes in more detail:
- San Jose (SJC) to Kauai (LIH): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
- Oakland (OAK) to Kauai (LIH): Starting Jan. 21, 2020
- Oakland (OAK) to Kona (KOA): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
- San Jose (SJC) to Kona (KOA): Starting Jan. 21, 2020
- Sacramento (SMF) to Honolulu (HNL): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
- Honolulu (HNL) to Kauai (LIH): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
- Honolulu (HNL) to Hilo (ITO): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
- Maui (OGG) to Kona (KOA): Starting Jan. 19, 2020
All these new routes are now sale now that Southwest has extended its booking schedule out to March 6, 2020. and as usual, Southwest is undercutting the competition on price – at least to start.
The airline started off by selling flights from California to both Kauai and Kona as low as $99 each way, though prices have since increased. It’s a familiar script for Southwest, which sold flights for its inaugural Hawaii flights as low as $49 each way before steadily increasing prices.
But the additional island-hopper flights are also interesting, bringing some long-needed competition to Hawaiian Airlines – the sole major airline flying between the islands. For example, while Hawaiian has regularly charged $120 or more for the one-stop flight from Kauai (LIH) to Kona (KOA), Southwest cuts that price roughly in half.
And by the looks of it, the new pressure from Southwest has already forced Hawaiian Airlines to cut some of its pricing for inter-island flights.
Southwest’s aggressive plans to expand in Hawaii have been slowed down by woes from the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. But with these new flights from the mainland to new Hawaiian islands, it’s starting to come together.
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