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Competition in the skies

LIHUE — Kauai is still waiting for Southwest Airlines to announce flights into Lihue Airport, and airline representatives say that will happen soon.

And while flights to the mainland are catching eyes nationwide, Southwest representatives say they’re just as focused on interisland travel.

“That’s something local customers want,” said Steven Swan, Southwest’s senior director of strategic planning and airline partnerships.

Swan was on Kauai over the weekend after Southwest announced flights from California to Oahu, Maui and Kona. He traveled to the Garden Island with Brad Hawkins, senior adviser for Southwest’s communications team, who said they couldn’t yet speak about connections on Kauai — or the deals that are expected to come with those flights.

Southwest opened up their flights from the mainland to Hawaii with fares less than $50 one-way — a fare that averages about $250 for a one-way flight, according to websites like Kayak.com and Orbitz.com.

From Oahu to neighbor islands Maui and Hawaii Island, Southwest announced flights starting at $65 one-way.

That’s providing competition for Hawaiian Airlines, the only carrier that’s been offering interisland flights since Island Air left the skies in 2017. A search on Google Flights showed one-way April flights from Kauai to Oahu starting at $69 and ranging up to $100, depending on the day and time of the flight.

Brent Overbeek, Hawaiian Airlines senior vice president for network planning and revenue management, said he couldn’t talk about future pricing or schedule changes, but did say that Hawaiian Air prides itself as being “Hawaii’s hometown carrier.”

“We have employees who work and live in the community, we’re blessed to have a group that’s ingrained in the islands,” Overbeek said. “We have a real robust level of service. We have a formula that works well and resonates with our guests and we’ll continue to compete.”

Whatever debut deals Southwest is planning for Kauai flights as they enter the interisland realm will be announced with the flights.

“(The announcement will), be sometime with in the next two to six weeks,” Hawkins said.

They did say that Southwest aims to stay in the game when it comes to interisland flights — and to offer “a different kind of service” than Hawaiian Airlines with features like no baggage fees.

They’ll be flying fewer times between islands.

“We announced four flights daily (from Oahu to other neighbor islands),” Swan said. “It’ll most likely be similar for Kauai.”

In comparison, Hawaiian Airlines offers flights between neighbor islands between 17 and 19 times daily — on almost an hourly basis from 6:30 a.m. to 11:50 p.m.

Several companies have given it a go at interisland travel — Aloha Airlines offered flights until 2008. Island Air ceased travel in November 2017 after filing for bankruptcy in October of that year.

Southwest says they’ve got the chops to make it, though, with a big enough customer base on the mainland to balance any hits they might take for hops in between islands.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we’d be able to make money,” Swan said.

Hawkins points out Southwest dominates a large corner of California air travel, and serves major population centers like Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

Hawaiian Airlines says it’s not going anywhere, and will continue to offer that robust schedule of flights between neighbor islands.

“Price and schedule are number one (in importance for customers),” Overbeek said. “We think we’ll check the boxes for our residents.”

6 Comments
  1. Doesn'tMatter March 12, 2019 8:04 am Reply

    It doesn’t matter if you are a home grown company with people who work and live in the islands. People will always go for the better deal. Take a good look at what has happened to all the store she that competed with amazon prices.

    Hawaiian Airlines will be the Macy’s of the sky in Hawaii. An overpriced and marked up airfares that will come back to haunt them for their overzealous and overextending their greed for international markets.

    The build their international flights on every penny they could get from the people of Hawaii.

    People are upset and waited for this for many years, ever since Aloha Airlines went bankrupt because of their own greed.

    This is good for the people and tourism but bad for traffic because the so called leaders have pea brains and can’t come up with a plan to alleviate the traffic woes.

    I’ve suggested a combination of ideas like what they have done in major cities around the US. Shuttle services combined with bus services, combined with a cap on rental cars at the airport area, combined with rental cars near VDA’s, combined with 15 passenger vans to take tourists to destinations.

    Kauai and the state of Hawaii love their cats but if we can reduce vehicles in areas and transport the mass to destinations in an efficient manner, only then we will start to tackle the traffic and congestion with a sound approach. Until then, good luck with these do nothing good for nothing’s at county at state government that has to hire consultants because they can’t do the job they are hired to do.

    Thank you Southwest!

    Down goes Hawaiian Airlines monopoly.


  2. KimoKane March 12, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    Lets hope they aren’t flying the 737 Max 8’s to Hawaii. One of the few companies not grounding their fleet after the latest crash.


    1. I saw a Vampire once March 12, 2019 12:31 pm Reply

      They’re flying the Max 8. You’re referring to The Lion Airlines in Singapore last year late October and the Ethiopean airlines 2 days ago. Both airlines was the Max 8 they crashed shortly after take off. South west airlines has the Max 8. Not sure which ones though.


  3. I saw a Vampire once March 12, 2019 12:13 pm Reply

    I think I already see a corporate take over. The employees of Hawaiian Airlines will be applying else where to work. Like Southwest Airlines. Seems only fitting. Because there just ain’t enough workers and the cost of the employees will be enormous. It is easier to hire already trained workers than to hire new ones. So they’ll be tapping into the Hawaiian airline employee market for labor.


  4. Onebrahda March 12, 2019 2:20 pm Reply

    KimoKane, Max 8’s are not used for inter-island. Hawaiian uses the following: Airbus A321neo’s, A330-200’s, Boeing 717-200’s, and 767-300’s for inter-island travel.


  5. 737Max8 March 12, 2019 3:21 pm Reply

    I’m a frequent flyer and have caught several flights in that type of plane and It’s great so far.

    2 down in less than 6 months concerns me but it’s no different from getting into your vehicle and getting into an accident. How many automobile companies has recalled millions of vehicles because of mechanical issues?

    When your time is up it’s up and you have no control. But the root of the problem is nepotism. In all cases when all else fails it leads to nepotism with under qualified and under educated family members getting jobs where public safety is a great concern.

    Our nation has a huge nepotism problem and it starts at the white house and extends with all of the gov military contracts.

    Pmrf/Dept of Navy has a huge nepotism problem on Kauai. It’s embarassing and dangerous at the same time.

    At one point, Kauai lost all revenues coming from the film industry because of an unqualified under educated person messing things up and pissing Hollywood off. It was nepotism that caused it.

    The Gas theft ring on Kauai was all about Nepotism.

    Majority of county, state, and contracts jobs are all about nepotism and that’s why nothing gets done because they do not know what or how to do their jobs.

    County parks and reca failed Kauai for over 10 years because of nepotism and it’s still failing the people and tourism industry till this day.

    It’s crazy what you people accept.

    The saying oh never mind no talk stink about others is tired and old. Call these bastards out and fire them so people who are qualified and want to do a good job are hired and working in the areas that’s been a huge failure of previous administrations.

    I doubt it’s going to happen under this new county council and administration but we still have to start talking louder so others can hear what’s going on and might have the nerve to doing something about it.


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