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Kauai waits for Southwest flights

LIHUE — Southwest Airlines threw out some low prices for service to and from Hawaii on Monday, with the first flight between Oakland and Honolulu scheduled on March 17.

Flights were starting as low as $49 for a one-way ticket from Oakland, but as Kauai’s Padraic Gallagher found out Monday, those tickets are already sold out.

“They’re all booked,” Gallagher said at about noon on Monday. “I tried.”

The flights are the first of many that Southwest is laying out over the next few months, including interisland travel that’s set to begin on April 28.

Flights to and from Kauai haven’t yet been announced. Tuesday, Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins said that’s in the works.

“We don’t have any news yet for Kauai but expect additional announcements in the coming weeks as we build out our initial wave of service for Hawaii,” Hawkins said.

Southwest has announced service starting May 5 to Honolulu from San Jose International Airport, and from San Jose to Maui on May 26.

Interisland travel will start April 28 between Honolulu and Kahului, with flights being scheduled four times daily in each direction. After that, service between Honolulu and Hawaii Island will begin May 12, with four daily flights in each direction.

“As we answer the call for Southwest in Hawaii with an initial schedule of service that speaks to a long-held hope of our customers, I applaud and congratulate our people for their steady and impressive work,” said Southwest Airlines’ CEO Gary Kelly in a press release.

People on Kauai are already looking at what’s coming down the line for inexpensive flights, and several said their hope is Southwest’s arrival will bring down costs for everyone.

“I haven’t looked much into Southwest, but it’s my opinion that it might be good for Hawaiian Airlines to have some competition,” said North Shore resident Rebecca Hart.

She said she wouldn’t be shocked to see cheaper interisland travel for a while, and then to see Southwest start struggling to offer competitive prices, though.

“Are they going to be able to stay?” she asked. “I love traveling interisland and it’s good for the island economies, good for the keiki, good for the culture.”

Currently, Southwest is hailing flights between Honolulu and Kona that would cost $29 each way, and $79 flights between Oakland and San Jose and Kona.

Gallagher said he’s also highly anticipating the interisland travel opportunities, particularly flights between Kauai and Oahu.

“I think it’s going to increase the competition for Hawaiian Airlines,” he said. “They have a monopoly (right now).”

Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO, recently said it was ready for competition from Southwest.

He noted Hawaiian already competes with American, United, Delta, Alaska, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

“We compete with all of them and we do it very well,” Ingram said.

Hawaiian Airlines has long maintained its fares are fair and if it were easy and inexpensive to operate interisland flights, more airlines would try. Island Air shut down its Hawaii operations, after 37 years, in November 2017. Aloha Airlines closed in March 2008.

Ingram said Hawaiian focuses on taking care of its guests, not by copying what other airlines are doing.

“It’s a tough business,” Ingram said. “We don’t always get it perfect. We know there’s lots of opportunities for improvement.”

Hart, who helps with music and event planning on Kauai, said she’s looking forward to seeing what kind of fares will follow Southwest’s introductory fares, as it might help with bringing shows to Kauai.

“As someone who does events, we’d love to have more music here, and that would be helped with inexpensive flights,” Hart said.

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

11 Comments
  1. Josephine Yip March 7, 2019 6:03 am Reply

    Would be nice to have flights from Las Vegas, Nv. to Maui. And back to Las Vegas.

    It’s a big problem to have to go from International to Inter Island .

    Do something for Vegas Maui people.


  2. Uncleaina March 7, 2019 6:16 am Reply

    Always enjoy hearing Hawaiian Airlines try to justify their exorbitant interisland prices. Ah, so somehow it costs 4x more per mile to fly interisland and we should all be thankful. I’ve heard that exact line about how they compete against United etc; but they aren’t discount airlines like SW. Southwest will certainly charge less (they have zero bag fees anyway) and I hope they dominate Hawaiian on the interisland routes. Southwest is like Costco – it’s much larger and better able to compete with Hawaiian and hopefully us residents will be free from this ridiculous monopoly Hawaiian has had. Sorry Hawaiian, you won’t be able to charge us $185 rt for a 16 minute flight anymore! I bet you’re even more sorry!


  3. I saw a Vampire once March 7, 2019 6:46 am Reply

    I can see how Southwest airlines could be a problem.


  4. I saw a Vampire once March 7, 2019 6:51 am Reply

    Just curious, do the pilots always keep their hands on the steering wheel when flying? Mid-flights. Like Turbulence.


  5. Rich March 7, 2019 8:39 am Reply

    Sorry but $50 flights from Oakland freaks me out… If you have ever been to Oakland you know what I mean. Cheaper event planning doesnt make me feel any more warm and fuzzy either.


    1. billyjoebob March 7, 2019 12:06 pm Reply

      Rich, flown in and out of Oakland several times, even at the old airport. Have family and friends there. Why don’t you come out and say ” what you mean “.
      Better than a lot of others I have been through.


    2. Mgb March 7, 2019 4:25 pm Reply

      I fly in and out of Oakland frequently. It is a nice airport and convenient.


  6. randy kansas March 7, 2019 11:48 am Reply

    we do not have to beg Hawaiian Air to lower their prices now….Southwest will do it for them !

    sorta agree with Rich above….sounds like more homeless coming to the islands for $50….good thing land is expensive, they will not be buying homes and staying……


  7. NoMoMonopoly March 7, 2019 3:31 pm Reply

    People will remember how Hawaiian Airlines were leeches during their monopoly years to build their international flights.

    I hope they suffer the consequences of their GREED.

    I remember spending over $300 for a round trip to Oahu and back to Kauai on several occasions.


  8. Rich March 8, 2019 8:39 am Reply

    I spent years in Oakland after leaving Kauai for a while, I was not restricted to just perusing the Airport. They do have a quiet airport and I prefer flying through Oakland over SF any day. However, Oakland always has had notable crime and homelessness, especially near the airport. Does the location determine if more homeless will be flying to Hawaii? probably not but pricing does! Combine the two and it makes a notable concern. I would prefer to price out ‘undesirables’. That’s “What I mean”…


  9. rk669 March 9, 2019 6:21 pm Reply

    $391,is what I paid R/T to Hilo! I like Hawaiian,Butt they need to be taught how to Treat their own neighbors! Maybe this spanking will change their Goughing Ways!


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