Southwest Airlines announces Hawaii expansion plans

  • Southwest Airlines flight arrived May 12 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport. The flight, which departed from Honolulu, was the first from Southwest to arrive on the Big Island. (West Hawaii Today file photo)

Southwest Airlines will move forward next month with its plans to expand service in Hawaii, including to Hilo.

“We are very pleased with the results from our initial waves of Hawaii service, which began back in March,” CEO and Chairman of the Board Gary Kelly said Thursday in the airline’s second quarter earnings release. “Demand for Southwest service to, from, and within Hawaii is robust.”

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While the lack of available aircraft, due to the airline’s decision to ground its Boeing 737 Max planes for the remainder of 2019, resulted in expansion delays to Hawaii, he said growth plans will resume in August.

“We will offer service to the islands from both Sacramento and San Diego, as well as bring Southwest service to both Lihue, on Kauai, and Hilo, on the Island of Hawaii,” Kelly said. “We will provide details of the next phases of Hawaii flying in the coming weeks and months, as we put new flights out for sale.”

Southwest Airlines confirmed in May that it will begin flights to Hilo but did not say when flights to Hilo International Airport would begin.

The airline announced in early March that it would begin service to the state with an inaugural flight between Oakland, Calif., and Honolulu.

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The airline launched service between Oakland and Kahului, Maui, on April 7 and started flying between Honolulu and San Jose in May. Southwest’s interisland service kicked off at the end of April when it began flying between Honolulu and Maui.

Service between Honolulu and Kailua-Kona began in May.

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