LIHUE — In less than a month Hawaii travelers will have another option for inter-sland travel with Southwest Airlines firing up the first routes two months earlier than planned.
Now Southwest will launch service between Honolulu and Kauai, Maui and Sacramento on Nov. 10.
Tuesday, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the airline moved up those flights in response to customer demand.
“We’re anxious to get Kauai started,” he said. “We’re proud to be offering service for people on the island and we know we have the opportunity to provide a different kind of service (for Hawaii).”
Southwest also announced more daily flights within the first quarter of 2020 from Hawaii to Oakland and San Jose, including direct flights from Kauai. It’ll start with nonstop flights every other day to each respective city and then Southwest plans to add more so customers have the option of two flights daily to California through the airline.
Southwest’s Airlines landed its inaugural flight at the Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in March after 18 months of planning. Flights were periodically added after that, with flights to and from Kauai originally set for January 2020.
In August, 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 for one day only from Oakland and San Jose to Honolulu, Kona or Lihue starting at $99.
That brought the number of flights for interisland travel to 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.
The rollout of the routes was put on pause in early 2019, after the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was grounded worldwide in mid-March due to two separate crashes.
Those aircraft are still grounded.
The Boeing 737 Max aircraft weren’t slated for Hawaii service, but the grounding of the planes decreased the overall availability of aircraft for Southwest.
That’s changing, though.
Southwest is in the process of canceling service to Newark, N.J. and consolidating New York operations to LaGuardia Airport. That’s freeing up air time for Hawaii. Service to Newark is set to stop on Nov. 3.
Hawkins couldn’t confirm on Tuesday whether Southwest plans on rolling out some more fare deals — when they announced interisland service, some of those flights were $29 for a one-way ticket.
A quick Tuesday search of the Southwest site showed one-way fares from Lihue to Honolulu in mid-November coming in at $39.