Southwest is solidifying its Hawaii network plans per their latest schedule just out.
Andrew Watterson, who many of you remember well from the prominent role he previously played at Hawaiian Airlines, has just been promoted. In a press release, SWA announced that he had been bumped up from Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer to the #3 position of Chief Operating Officer.
Andy Watterson is on the path to leading Southwest Airlines.
Southwest said that “In his new role, Watterson will provide Executive Leadership to Flight Operations, Inflight Operations, Crew Scheduling, Cargo & Charters, Customer Support & Services, Ground Operations, Hospitality Operations Support, Labor Relations, Network Operations Control, Regulatory Programs & Compliance, Operations Strategy, Performance & Design, Safety & Security, and Technical Operations. Additionally, he will continue to oversee the airline’s Network Planning Department.”
Why Hawaii remains critical to Southwest.
Watterson came to Southwest Airlines as VP of Network Planning and Performance nearly a decade ago and has been Senior VP of Network and Revenue Management since 2017. He had been VP of Planning and Revenue Management at Hawaiian Airlines.
To say that Andy has inside knowledge about everything at Hawaiian Airlines is an understatement. He was a huge catch for Southwest then and remains so to this day.
BOH: This further promotion to COO speaks not only to how valuable Watterson is to SWA but also to the importance of Hawaii to their business.
Only one person stands between Watterson and Southwest’s CEO.
There are only two people higher in the executive command at Southwest. They are Robert Jordan, the current CEO, and Michael Van de Ven, the president.
Southwest’s recent Hawaii developments.
In August, we announced that 10 Southwest Hawaii flights had been dropped, which included routes from LA, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Diego. That represented a reduction of 38% from their prior schedule. Last month, Southwest brought back four popular routes starting next March: LA to Kauai, LA to Kona, Sacramento to Maui, and San Diego to Maui. According to their latest schedule update, however, the remaining canceled routes are no longer in Southwest’s network plans and will not be returning.
BOH: Southwest will go to seasonal on Hawaii routes when needed to adjust flights to demand. As other airlines move to less-than-daily Hawaii routes, Southwest will move in the same direction. Hawaiian and Alaska already do that on some Hawaii routes, operating several times each week but not every day.
Southwest continues to fly an aggressive interisland schedule in competition with Hawaiian Air. That keeps interisland fares suppressed to the $39 price point on both carriers for the foreseeable future.
Read our recent and surprisingly favorable review of Southwest from California to Hawaii.
The photo above is of Andy Watterson and former SWA CEO Gary Kelly.