LIHU‘E — Southwest Airlines has announced three new mainland flight services to and from Hawai‘i that represent 15 new routes from more than 40 mainland cities to the four main airports in Hawai‘i — including Lihu‘e Airport.
Gates in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix are joining the Southwest Airlines roster beginning in June — adding to the carrier’s five established gateways: Long Beach, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose.
For some markets in California, customers can travel beginning June 8, 2021, with fares as low as $129 one-way. All Southwest Hawaii service operates on the 737-800 and MAX aircraft.
Andrew Watterson, Chief Commercial Officer &Executive Vice President for Southwest Airlines touted the airline’s comfortable seating and flexible prices in the Thursday announcement, reiterating the airlines’ goal of aligning with Hawaii’s Aloha Spirit as well as connecting with customers.
“We’re building on an era of affordability that Southwest initiated for Hawai‘i air travel,” Watterson said. “These new flights bring Hawaii service closer to more of our Customers who live near airports across the west, and make it possible to choose Southwest to fly between the Aloha State and cities as far east as Nashville, without spending an entire overnight in the air.”
The rollout of new flights will happen in stages, and for Lihu‘e Airport it starts June 27 with the introduction of a once daily nonstop flight from Los Angeles. Once daily nonstop flights from Phoenix begin September 7, 2021 and the once daily nonstop flight from Las Vegas begins September 8.
“We’re doubling our Honolulu service for San Diego while also adding new flights to the Island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kaua‘i to answer requests we’ve heard on both sides of these new routes,” Watterson said. “Our military travelers in San Diego especially benefit from these time-saving options as we’re also bringing them new nonstop options between San Diego and Norfolk/Virginia Beach this summer.”
Service to some islands, like O‘ahu, will operate more than once daily.
Southwest Airlines entered Hawaii airspace in March 2019 with the goal of expanding not only trans-Pacific travel, but being the go-to airline for interisland travel.
Their trans-Pacific travel plans hinged on the use of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which was grounded for almost two years, after two fatal crashes. The COVID-19 pandemic further complicated Southwest’s expansion of flights to and from Hawai‘i.