Southwest Airlines is adding inter-island flights to its Hawaii plans, potentially giving Hawaiian Airlines its first competition in years on island-to-island flights.
Southwest is waiting FAA approval to begin flying to Hawaii from the mainland. The airline's fleet is all 737s, and requires certification for over-water operations far from land. Southwest is confident they will get the OK in time to begin selling tickets this year.
Once approval is in, service will start from one California city to one island destination, with others to follow quickly. The California cities are Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose. In Hawaii, Southwest will serve Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului (Maui), Lihue (Kauai) and Kona (Hawaii's “Big Island").
No details so far on inter-island plans, including whether Southwest would station planes there on a full-time basis. Another possibility, which wouldn't come near the frequency of Hawaiian's flights, would be for Southwest's California flights to serve more than one Hawaiian destination, for instance a San Diego to Oahu flight that continued on to Kona before reversing the itinerary.