My wife & I took the inaugural Southwest Airlines flight from Maui to Honolulu yesterday. It is the first airline to enter the inter-island market for a long time. In recent years Hawaiian Airlines have dominated the market, with one or two much smaller airlines offering only a handful of routes compared to their larger competitor. The result for passengers has been expensive tickets on inter-island trips.
With Southwest now offering a few routes, hopefully increasing to more, I don’t think that I am the only one who hopes that their presence will knock down the price of flights between the islands. Of course first they have to stay. Many other airlines have come and gone. I think in Southwest’s favor is their larger resume of flights around the rest of the US, giving them some weight. Now adding to that, they are introducing flights to Hawaii.
Yesterday’s inaugural flight was less than full, but Southwest greeted everyone at the gate with freebies and a sense of event. In Honolulu a small terminal has been refitted for the airline. It looks as though they are here to stay. I, for one, will be watching closely.