HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Southwest Airlines has revealed for the first time that it plans to serve four Hawaii destinations: Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue.
The discount carrier has been talking about expanding to Hawaii for years, but it has never before specified routes, and even now it isn't saying where flights will start, though Los Angeles is likely.
Southwest announced the destinations in its first quarter earnings report. The airline posted a record winter profit, but projected a 1 percent to 3 percent decline in second quarter business following the recent incident in which an exploding engine killed a passenger – the first fatality in Southwest history.
Southwest has created a Hawaii-specific webpage, but it has no timetable for service yet since the airline is still waiting for federal regulatory approvals.
Flying long distances over water requires airlines to apply for special certification, which depends on extra pilot training and a more stringent schedule of maintenance and parts replacement. (Airlines are required to change out parts after so many hours of use whether they show wear or not.)
Southwest, like the big three carriers, sees Hawaii service as an attractive way for frequent fliers to burn off their miles.