LIHUE — Southwest has announced inter-island flights to and from Lihue Airport.
Flights to and from Kauai start on Jan. 19, 2020, and flyers can book flights now on the Southwest website. They advertise deals as low as $29 for one-way travel between Lihue and Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului and Kona.
Those deals are up for grabs until Thursday, Aug. 22, and there were still some fares left at that price as of Thursday afternoon.
Kauai resident Valerie Saiki said the deals are being nearly matched by Hawaiian Airlines. She said she got a text Thursday morning from a friend who booked a one-way flight from Kauai to Honolulu on Hawaiian for $39 that day.
She immediately shared the information with friends and family, saying she saw tickets at Thanksgiving were at $120 round-trip through Hawaiian Airlines, but that fares were climbing fast.
After she got done spreading the word about Hawaiian Airlines deals, Saiki saw the Southwest announcement and surmised their deals triggered Hawaiian Airlines’ deals as well.
“It’s all happening now, why not get a deal?” she said Thursday. “We’re all hardworking people and sometimes we just need to save money.”
Throughout the day, Saiki was getting feedback from friends and family, trying to score their own flights from Kauai.
“I had a couple people text me back and say they just scored round-trip tickets for $88,” she said. “Usually, it’s $64 to $72 on average for a one-way interisland fare. They got a deal.”
Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon said Thursday the airline has been pleased with the response to their initial flights to and from Hawaii, which started in March.
“We’re focused on bringing Hawaii an authentically Southwest experience, with comfort across all seating for every customer,” Nealon said in a statement.
Flights to Hawaii, as well as between islands, have been in the works since October 2017. After the initial flights were established in March, plans for expansion of service were derailed by issues with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The 737 MAX aircraft were grounded in March after two of the aircraft crashed within five months.
The aircraft isn’t slated for use in Hawaii service, but grounding all of the 737 MAXs had an impact on the airlines.
“The overall availability of aircraft since March had us pausing on growth — even that growth to which we already had intentionally committed,” said Brad Hawkins, Southwest spokesman. “We had planned to be flying sooner, all this service we announced today. Frankly, we already hoped to be flying San Diego service as well, and that was not included in today’s announcements.”
Thursday, Southwest announced eight new flights between Hawaii and San Jose and Oakland, as well as an expansion of interisland flights. One-day deals were available Thursday only from Oakland and San Jose to Honolulu, Kona or Lihue starting at $99.
It kicks off new service daily between Sacramento and Honolulu, new nonstop service from Oakland and San Jose, both to Lihue and Kona.
Interisland, these new flights make a total of 34 route departures a day, four times daily in each direction, as well as nonstop service between Kahului and Kona once daily in each direction.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at email@example.com.