Hawaiian Airlines' New Main Cabin Basic Economy

Hawaiian Airlines Competition Mainland and Inter-Island

Carriers entering key west coast markets and possibly inter-island too, will lead to more Hawaiian Airlines competition. Look for more news very soon from Southwest Airlines, in addition to United Airlines and Delta Airlines. Plus announcements of many new routes coming from Hawaiian Airlines in the new year!

The financial markets are well aware of our industry’s competitive threats, and as a result, the price of Hawaiian Airlines stock has dropped nearly 50% from over $60 in December to $33 today. That in spite of good financial reports. Why? It’s all about the upcoming competition that we continue to apprise you about.

Of course, last week, SWA Hawaii flights were in the news again, with their CEO indicating that inter-island flights are definitely both a consideration and something (short haul) that Southwest is uniquely adept at.

Hawaiian Airlines Competition on Mainland Routes

These routes have been the bread and butter of Hawaiian Airlines’ operations for decades. The company has largely been using its fleet of A330 wide-body’s for those routes, in addition to its soon to be retired 767 fleet. Hawaiian will be switching on all but the most highly trafficked routes to the A321 narrow-body’s as those are delivered and put into service starting early next year.

Hawaiian Airlines will distinguish itself with its unique island-style service model. In addition, they will feature a first class (not lie-flat) section on the new planes. They also offer a premium economy section with same-as-economy seating, but with additional legroom and other amenities.

Southwest, by contrast, will have no first class, premium economy or even basic seat assignments. Southwest does and probably will continue to offer two free checked bags.

United Airlines and Delta Airlines both offer first class (mostly not lie-flat) and similarly configured premium economy sections.

Beat of Hawaii Analysis: Hawaiian Airlines will remain a strong performer in their well established mainland markets. Prices and profits, however, may erode for some time on these routes. One recent example of this is the price of San Francisco to Maui and Honolulu coming down to the $300 round trip level last week.

Hawaiian Airlines Competition on Inter-island Routes

Hawaii has had no inter-island competition for more than a decade, since the demise of once beloved Aloha Airlines. And unfortunately we expect troubled Island Air to cease operations at some point in the not distant future.

Southwest inter-island. When asked last week about flying inter-island, SWA CEO Gary Kelly indicated that was a distinct possibility, either initially or subsequent to their west coast to Hawaii launch. We all know that short-haul routes, similar to those in Hawaii, have been a cost-effective, winning solution for Southwest since their inception. Inter-island might start as one-stop connections, such as Kona-Honolulu-Mainland for example.

In the past decade, as a result of surging costs and little competition, inter-island flying has become something of an expensive exception rather than the rule. Previously, it wasn’t unusual for visitors to fly to Honolulu, then island-hop to see multiple islands. Residents also used to commute regularly for shopping and other reasons.

Beat of Hawaii Analysis: Southwest inter-island entry could, at least initially, reduce inter-island fares by as much as 50% overall. It would be a huge game changer for Hawaii’s airline and related hospitality industries, visitors and locals.

8 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines Competition Mainland and Inter-Island”

  1. We visit the islands each year as a large family group during late January/early February. For 2018 it will be first part of April, which is Easter. Please advise on whether you remember fares ever being put on sale during that time. We would arrive mid week and depart mid week with Easter being over that weekend. Are we out of luck in finding cheap fares? Aloha, George

    1. Hi George.

      Easter isn’t relevant but spring break is. The first week and into the second week will be high season so we do not expect to see any price reductions. Having said that, spring break is more fluid than say the end of year holidays. So it is possible that some of those dates might go down in price. Not likely, but possible. On the other hand, if you have a trip you are determined to make, that hope may not do you any good.


  2. Is Hawaiian really going to put a small A321 on the Phoenix route? The flight is full each time I fly. How do you cut down by 60 passengers? That isn’t cost efficient. I like the widebody planes over the ocean to be honest. Sure seems to me like they should put an A330 on the route. Actually a B777 would be much better, but I know they aren’t buying those.

  3. My daughter and I will be traveling to Kauai from Portland, OR next September.
    Based on what I have read here today and also recently by your sight I am wondering, even if I soon see the prices go down, if I should wait to purchase our airline tickets after the new years starts?
    Please, any helpful information you can give me regarding this will be much appreciated.

  4. Aloha!

    We are planning a family (7 of us) trip to Oahu in June 2018. I’m a Hawaiian Airlines miles member and have enough points for one flight.
    Currently the price is about $650 round trip from Oakland, Ca to Honolulu.

    Could you please advise if you anticipate that price to drop and how long I should wait to book?

    Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Debbie.

      It will probably work out for you to wait. Not sure how long – but until you see fares in the $500’s. Can’t promise but that’s our hunch having done this for a long time.


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