Are These New Routes Priming Southwest’s Hawaii Strategy?

May 31, 2018

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Another potential clue in the unfurling intrigue surrounding Southwest’s future operations in Hawaii was dropped on Thursday afternoon.

As Southwest has been releasing intermittent updates about its foray into the Hawaii market — including the four California airports from which Hawaii-bound flights will depart, which Hawaiian airports the airline will serve and which aircraft will fly the routes — questions have swirled about what additional connection cities and direct routes might be added to serve Hawaii down the line.

So, when the low-cost carrier revealed six new routes (or frequencies) flying out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and three out of Washington, DC’s Regan National Airport (DCA), AvGeeks speculated whether this was a move setup to prime future connections from the East Coast and additional direct routes to Hawaii.

Back in April, Southwest announced that it had signed a 10-year lease on the six slots for the new and additional routes from Alaska, as the Seattle-based carrier scaled back some operations in its merger with Virgin America. But, Southwest did not reveal the new routes until Thursday.

The new LGA-based routes or frequencies will be:

  • One daily LGA – New Orleans (MSY)
  • One daily LGA – Orlando (MCO)
  • One daily LGA – Palm Beach (PBI)
  • Additional daily LGA – Dallas (DAL)
  • Additional daily LGA – Denver (DEN)
  • Additional daily LGA – Kansas City (MCI)

And the DCA-based frequencies will be:

  • One daily DCA – Oklahoma City (OKC)
  • Additional daily DCA – Dallas (DAL)
  • Additional daily DCA – Nashville (BNA)

All routes will start November 4, 2018.

While the East Coast and some Midwestern locations on this list are too far for nonstop Hawaii service, two destinations stick out on this list as possibly priming the pipeline for additional Hawaii routes — potentially connecting the East Coast with the 50th state. Both Dallas (DAL) and Denver (DEN) will be just on the edge of the range for a Hawaii destination when flying the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which Southwest plans to operate on its Hawaii service after initial launching with its 737-800s. While DAL is where Southwest is based, DEN is one of its largest airports in terms of operations.

Southwest focus cities within range of Honolulu.
Southwest focus cities within range of Honolulu.

While DAL and DEN are certainly within the MAX 8’s capacity for Hawaii, only time will tell if Southwest will add these as the first cities outside California on its forthcoming Hawaii service. For now, the carrier is focused on getting the necessary approvals to launch service to Hawaii — with its main focus, for now, on California.

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