Latest Airline Plans To Tweak Hawaii Prices Higher

Hawaiian/Southwest Make Less Than $25/Flight: Pullback Is Imminent

In the battle of Hawaii flights, things continue to go downhill. Both in terms of pricing and profitability. How long can it go on? We don’t know for sure, but we have some fascinating insights to share.

1. Analysis of a $39 airfare.

When you look at the current price point for $39 interisland fares, did you know that only $26 goes to the airline? The remaining $12+ is a combination of taxes and fees in which they do not participate. But the $26 is before the advertising cost.

2. Google ad cost.

We were in Google search, shopping for flights to bring you more airline reviews when we stumbled onto this competing pair of Hawaiian And Southwest Google Ads. By our estimation, the carriers pay anywhere from $2-15 for each click on one of these ads. That’s a huge percentage of their $26 part of a $39 airfare.

3. Aggressive expansion hasn’t benefited Southwest yet.

As one investment analyst said this week, “Southwest is bleeding cash in the interisland market. Southwest Airlines will probably rein in its interisland ambitions eventually, but it might not be soon.” In terms of blood, Southwest has much more they can afford to lose than Hawaiian.

4. Southwest Hawaii flights adjusted by rapidly adding and deleting flights.

First, we announced in July that Southwest had cut 10 routes. Then we reported that they had nearly doubled their daily interisland flights from 38 to 60. After that, Southwest canned the previous plan and re-added 4 mainland routes previously deleted.

5. Mainland Hawaii routes seem to be working for both airlines, but not interisland.

We recently paid $188.50 for our Southwest flight from Hawaii to San Jose. And we’re paying about the same for a Hawaiian Air flight next week. At those prices, Southwest and Hawaiian didn’t lose money. On the other hand, we have been and will be flying around for $39 on both airlines, and that isn’t sustainable, as we’ve already said.

6. Island hopping has never been easier or cheaper.

Even at $39, there appears to be inadequate demand to fill flights, further exacerbating the financial loss. If you’re traveling to Hawaii this fall, this is the best time ever to consider adding another island to your itinerary. Flights are readily available and the prices can’t be beaten.

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37 thoughts on “Hawaiian/Southwest Make Less Than $25/Flight: Pullback Is Imminent”

  1. I recall that in the early 2000’s, Go!/Mesa Airlines Group ran Aloha Airlines out of business after AQ (and HA) emerged from post 9/11 bankruptcy by offering….(gasp) $39 fares!

    It will be intriguing to see Southwest’s 737-800’s and 8Max aircraft utilization as those larger 737’s are simply not built for interisland flying compared to the 737-200’s Aloha used, which were much more suitable for interisland flying, like Hawaiian’s 717’s.

    Would love to see if Hawaiian would evaluate and eventually choose the A220 for its 717 replacement in the future. Especially if it performs well in Hawaii’s climate.

  2. While the Boeing 717 is a perfectly fine plane, Hawaiian ruined their aircraft after installing the plastic chairs. Yuck. Less value still more dollars to pay for airfare.

    Southwest came in with bigger, newer planes and better seats. Plus lower airfare, 2 bags fly free and no change fee… For interisland.

    Can’t beat that.

  3. Southwest bullied/pushed their way in to a market that did not need the additional lift. The unfortunate thing is that Hawaiian (the home carrier) suffers as a result of southwest’s greed.

    1. Competition is good for the marketplace. Hawaiian certainly became greedy in interisland after Aloha Airlines, Island Air, Go and the Hawaii Superfetry all died. Hawaiian was one of the players that helped kill the ferry.

      Then in 2015 Hawaiian downgraded their Boeing 717s by replacing soft seats with horrible plastic chairs. They wanted to squeeze in 4 or 6 more passengers per plane, but still kept the monopoly prices.

      Enter Southwest in 2019 and now interisland travel is cheaper and more comfortable even without the $39 fare.

  4. I absolutely love Hwaii. I love the people and the vibe.I would like to see the better part of the islands returned to the Hawaiian local natives because they got screwed back in the day.I will never stop visiting and we’ll always respect the native customs and traditions.

    1. What do you mean by this? Like give a hotel away to someone with a Hawaiian address?

      If you’re from let’s say Illinois, but your family hails from France and England generations ago, should you give up your home to someone who can trace their routes to a Native American tribe that lived within the boundaries of the modern day state?

      While I think your intentions are good, as a country and society we need to look forward rather than backward. Sure some wrongs were done, but that’s the case wherever you go across the globe.

      Instead just be a courteous traveler, enjoy the beaches and amenities, and if a Hawaiian visits your state hopefully they will not wish you to give up your land.

  5. Southwest really has no business island hopping in Hawaii. The 717s that Hawaiian Airlines uses is more than enough. I feel like Hawaiian Airlines is being robbed with all due respect.

  6. Odd. We live on Kauai and just last night I heard neighbors saying that when SW or HA advertise a $39 deal, you have to immediately book it. They said only a very limited number of seats are available at the $39 fare and then prices jump.


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