Southwest Airlines is about to give Hawaiian Airlines a literal run for its money as it plans to lay a claim on the Aloha State’s inter-island market.
According to Southwest’s Revenue Chief, Andrew Watterson, flights within the state will begin not long after the commencement of flights between Hawaii and the US mainland.
Only time will tell if Southwest will be able to stand the test of time and flight cost and not fall victim as past competitors have, starting with Aloha Airlines which shut down in 2008. Go! Airline (Mesa Air) went belly up in 2014, and Island Air closed its doors in 2017.
Watterson said the short-haul flights in Hawaii are a big market, adding that this is what Southwest is known for.
The airline will be using the Boeing 737-800 for both long-haul and inter-island flights. Use of the same aircraft for its long-haul flights has, in fact, come under question, as it was actually designed to be a city hopper, not a long-haul over the ocean airplane.
The aircraft seats 175, but plans are to switch to a 737 Max. The airline is not worried about filling those seats. Hawaiian Airlines flies Boeing 717s that seat 128, and also flies an Ohana turboprop commuter that seats 48.
Watterson said Hawaii’s inter-island market is larger than the intra-Texas market, which is what Southwest built its airline on using the 737. According to the US Transportation Department, 6,515 passengers traveled the inter-island route, comparable to the intra-Texas market which flew 6,212.
Currently, Southwest fares between Houston and Dallas are at $109. The lowest one-way fare on Hawaiian Air is $70-$95.