Will Southwest Fly To Hawaii?

With new planes in the offing, will this be the juncture at which Southwest goes the route of Alaska Air and United, and brings their brand of 737-based service to the islands?

Southwest recently reached agreement with its pilots to operate 737-800 aircraft as a part of their next round of fleet acquisitions. That rekindled in my mind the question of what happened to Southwest’s earlier intentions of serving Hawaii.

I haven’t written about Southwest for some time, but back in early 2009, Southwest appeared to have shelved earlier plans of reaching Hawaii.  That came following the 2008 demise of code-share partner ATA, and failed attempts to reach a new Hawaii partner agreement. Southwest has been smartly reticent to get into the Hawaii fray unless and until they can find a way to do so profitably.

Southwest has made it clear over the past five years that they would like to find a way to bring service to Hawaii. Yet issues remain including:

  • Lack of diversified 737-reachable routes (you can’t get far from the west coast with these planes).
  • Fierce competition including Alaska, American, Continental/United, Delta, Hawaiian, US Air, and soon Allegiant.
  • New aircraft and personnel require complicated, costly ETOPS (extended twin engine) certification.
  • The likelihood of excessive demand for unprofitable frequent flyer tickets to Hawaii.

My take: it’s inevitable that Southwest will serve Hawaii.

It may not happen this year or next, but I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t happen at all.  Likely they will decide of a fleet of some number of ETOPS certified planes and crew in the next round of acquisitions.

Your take

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7 thoughts on “Will Southwest Fly To Hawaii?”

  1. They could easily fly to Hawaii as they are configured now. You are incorrect in saying you cannot go far in a 737. Fully loaded their range is in excess of 3000 miles which is 800 more than needed from Los Angelas.

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