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Southwest Airlines’ long-awaited “second wave” of expansion in Hawaii is now underway.
The carrier announced five new routes from California and detailed plans for serving three new inter-island markets.
Among the California airports getting new Hawaii service is Sacramento, where Honolulu will become Southwest’s first Hawaii route from the city when it launches on Jan. 19.
Also landing new Hawaii routes are Oakland and San Jose. Southwest already flies to Hawaiian islands from those airports, but the airline will add two additional destinations (Kona and Kauai) from each.
Southwest had targeted another California city — San Diego — for Hawaii service as far back as May 2018. However, no Hawaii flights have yet been announced there. On Thursday, Southwest said flights for that “previously announced gateway … will be announced later.”
Beyond California, Southwest also announced plans for three new routes within Hawaii. Two will be from Honolulu, connecting the city with both the island of Kauai and the city of Hilo on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. The third will connect Maui with the city of Kona, also on the Big Island.
With these additions, Southwest says it will offer a total 34 departures a day on inter-island routes.
In a statement, Southwest President Tom Nealon described the expansion as a “second wave of service” for Hawaii, which Southwest added to its route map in March after years of anticipation.
However, expectations of rapid ramp-up there did not materialize as Southwest faced an unexpected shortage of aircraft after Boeing’s 737 MAX jets were grounded later in the same month. Southwest currently has more MAXes in its fleet (34) than any other airline, and it remains unclear when the aircraft might be cleared to fly again.
Southwest has had to compensate by slowing the planned retirement of older 737s and by trimming existing flights off its current schedules. Most recently, Southwest said it would drop its entire schedule at Newark Liberty (EWR), abandoning that airport altogether so it could redeploy those planes elsewhere in its network. The carrier cited the grounding of the MAX in making that move.
Here is the full schedule breakdown for Southwest’s new Hawaii routes:
Honolulu: Begins Jan. 19 (daily service)
Existing routes: None
Kona: Begins Jan. 19 (four flights a week)
Lihue/Kauai: Begins Jan. 21 (three flights a week)
Existing routes: Honolulu, Maui
Lihue/Kauai: Begins Jan. 19 (four flights a week)
Kona: Begins Jan. 19 (three flights a week)
Existing routes: Honolulu, Maui
New Inter-Island routes
Honolulu-Lihue/Kauai: Begins Jan. 19 (four daily round-trip flights)
Honolulu-Hilo: Begins Jan. 19 (four daily round-trip flights)
Kahului/Maui -Kona: Begins Jan. 19 (four daily round-trip flights)
Existing inter-island routes: Honolulu-Maui and Honolulu-Kona
Featured image by Jim Watson/AFP.
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