HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Southwest Airlines announced Thursday it will not just launch transpacific flights to four Hawaii airports, but will also launch interisland service in Hawaii as well.
"Once we get our operation up and going here in Hawaii, our intent is to serve interisland," said Southwest President Tom Nealon in an appearance on Hawaii News Now Sunrise. "We think it's a market that has little competition, if any. It's very highly priced. We think we'll offer a great product on interisland."
Southwest previously announced it would eventually fly, not just to Honolulu, but also to Kona, Kahului and Lihue. On Thursday, Southwest also said it would fly here from Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose and San Diego.
It was known that interisland service was under consideration, but until now there was no announcement one way or the other.
Nealon added that Southwest will fly Boeing 737-800 planes initially, then will later transition to Boeing 737 Max 8s.
"That's a perfect aircraft for the mission," he said.
Decisions are still being made about staffing but the Southwest executives, who flew to Hawaii for the announcement, said some ground personnel in Hawaii would definitely be Southwest personnel rather than outsource contractors.
"We will have ground employees here, we're looking forward to hiring locally here in Hawaii," said Steve Goldberg, senior vice president for operations and hospitality. "We'll have a good mix of existing Southwest employees that will transfer over and we're looking to hire local employees on all four locations."
In a statement, Hawaiian Air called Southwest's pledges for service vague.
"Southwest's PR strategy has been to toss out tidbits without much detail, so it's unclear what kind of service or operation they are committing to," said Ann Botticelli, senior vice president for corporate communications and public affairs at Hawaiian.
She also said the airline's fares are competitive.
"The one-way fares for close-in travel tomorrow on one of our most popular routes -- Honolulu-Kona -- range from $85 to $195, while Southwest's one-way fares for travel tomorrow from Austin-Houston -- a flight of similar length – range from $233 to $270," Botticelli said.
This story may be updated.