HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Southwest Airlines launched its new inter-island service Sunday, with four round-trip flights between Honolulu and Maui and introductory fares as low as $29.
“I got $59 this direction and $29 on my way home," said Kihei resident Emily Hiller.
Wailuku native Jasmic Kala said he also saved a bundle, flying his his family of six to Oahu.
“We paid something like $200-something for six people," he said.
Passengers said they were also impressed with Southwest’s customer service.
“We got free donuts, we got free coffee, they were welcoming," said Emily Hiller of Kihei.
“And it was super fast to get on the plane and they checked my bags for free.”
Added Sabrina Labrador of Napili, Maui:
“It was open seating so that was nice and they were were really accommodating for my father-in-law who hurt his leg," she said.
But aviation industry analyst Peter Forman doesn’t think the $59 and $29 fares are sustainable.
Over the long-term, ticket prices will edge back up as Southwest builds its market share, he said.
“In the short-term, everyone benefits from a fare war," he said.
“Hawaiian is going to be defending their turf, they’re going to be offering their discount prices to go along with as well.”
Several passengers said high fares during the past few years have deterred them from flying inter-island. They said they now expect to fly more frequently under the new competitive environment.
“That kept us from traveling more often. Now with Southwest with their wonderful fares we’ll come to Oahu more often," said Stephanie Cortez, of Wailuku.
Added Hiller: “We’ve already booked another flight in August so yeah, looking forward to it," she said.