Southwest: We're exploring inter-island service in Hawaii expansion

Southwest: We're exploring inter-island service in Hawaii expansion

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Low-cost carrier Southwest is exploring inter-island service as part of its Hawaii expansion.

On Thursday, an airline executive confirmed that in addition to mainland-to-Hawaii service, Southwest is considering limited, inter-island flights.

"On the mainland, we're known for short flights, quick turn around times," Andrew Watterson, Southwest executive vice president and chief revenue officer told Hawaii News Now. "The inter-island market does lend itself to that."

Hawaii residents traveling at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Thusrday say they are excited about the possibility. And some hoped the additional competition could bring down fares.

"I like Southwest," says Aiea resident Nahe Lui. "I travel a lot."

Travis Peters from Hilo also likes the idea.

"Inter-island would be awesome because it's just another, competitor for Hawaiian Airlines," he said.

He added that he and his family are loyal Hawaiian Airline frequent fliers, but he believes the addition of a third carrier would force price drops.

Southwest Airlines offers low fares, sometimes $49 one way for short hops comparable to inter-island travel.

"I try to go every so often to see my mom," said Ciera Kamakea who said the cost of tickets to the Big island and back keep her from visiting her mother more often.

Aviation expert Peter Forman said Southwest joining Hawaiian and Island Air would result in an immediate drop in prices, but it may not last long.

Forman also said it won't be easy for Southwest to penetrate the market.

"With Hawaiian Airlines being a very strong airline with frequency of flights, and Island Air being the low cost airline ... the entrance into inter island would likely be expensive (for Southwest) as both of those airlines try to defend their portion of the market," he said.

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