A report today based on data from Kayak, which indicates that overall, fares from California cities to all Hawaii destinations were down 17% compared with the same period last year. That drop in prices was largely as a result of both Southwest Hawaii flights and anticipation thereof, even before any significant competition actually occurred. The reason for the lack of competition is that those introductory fare sales came and went so fast that other airlines did not have a chance or need to respond.
More on what is about to happen, including significant changes we now anticipate, below.
Introductory $49 fares and next fare sales/announcements.
When Southwest Hawaii flights were announced last month, all of us nearly fell out of our chairs when we saw introductory fares of $49 to $99 each way, including all taxes, fees and two checked bags. Of course those didn’t stick, and fares have risen quite sharply, at least for now.
All of that will change once again when Southwest announces the next round of new flights, which we have been told will happen later this month. With those will come more introductory fares (although probably not at the $49 mark).
Change in Roll-out Plans Coming?
We anticipate the next announcement of flights from Sacramento, San Diego, and Lihue will be more modest than had previously been planned. While those routes should all still start this summer, there might be fewer flights and fewer nonstop flights announced. We’ll tell you more specifics as soon as possible, since we are aware many of you are awaiting news in order to book summer vacation travel.
The primary reason for any delay is the continued grounding of their Max 8 aircraft, which, while not used for Hawaii, has seen some of the Hawaii fleet of 737-800 aircraft called into service elsewhere. The airline told pilots last week that Max 8 airplanes would now be off schedule/out of service at least through May.
Also, the release of the full range of planned Southwest Hawaii flights may be prolonged, perhaps taking place over the next year or more. Those additional mainland gateway cities awaited include Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver, among others.
Southwest effect Hawaii airfares -17% | Many more Hawaii deals lie ahead.
We’ve written before about the Southwest effect, as was most recently reported in the 2017 Darden School of Business study. “A few industry writers question whether the Southwest Effect still exists today, or has it been overtaken by the fares/traffic effect created by other low-cost carriers. The answer is clear. The Southwest Effect is alive and well.” — Alan Beckenstein (University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business), Brian Campbell (Campbell-Hill Aviation Group).
Their study found that Southwest has as a strong effect on prices charged by other airlines. We’re quite certain that this effect isn’t going away anytime soon, and Hawaii bound travelers are likely to enjoy generally reduced airfares for years to come.
According to Brad Hawkins of Southwest Airlines: “In general terms, we entered the Hawaii marketplace to do what we do — lower fares, stimulate traffic, and raise the level of customer service that our fans and loyalists don’t tie to so-called premium services, but rather to comfort and value for all.”
Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines.