Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
After years in the making, Southwest Airlines’ first official flight between California and Hawaii took wing on March 17. The new service, offered at reduced introductory rates, triggered a tsunami of bookings while sparking conversations about its effect on the destination and the travel advisors who sell it.
Plans call for the airline to connect four Hawaii airports — Honolulu, Kahului (Maui), Lihue (Kauai) and Kona (Hawaii Island) — with California hubs including Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego. Add the carrier’s new interisland service to the mix, and the overall result means good things for travel agents, says Jack Richards, president of Pleasant Holidays.
“Southwest’s entry into the Hawaii market will stimulate business and increase demand for the destination,” Richards said. “Travel advisors will have the opportunity to sell hotels, airport transfers, sightseeing tours, luaus, lei greetings, car rentals and other travel products to Hawaii clients, increasing their commission income.”
As other airlines compete to protect market share and their customer base, average airfares from the U.S. west to Hawaii are declining.
“This is generating buzz for Hawaii and providing advisors with greater sales opportunities for Hawaii vacations at lower prices for their customers,” Richards said.
The Southwest flights will benefit not only Hawaii tourism but other industries, including retail, dining and transportation, says Duke Ah Moo, vice president and commercial director for Hilton Hawaii.
“We know that there are loyal Southwest customers who have been waiting for the chance to visit Hawaii via their preferred airline,” Ah Moo said. “This opportunity will allow first-time visitors to experience the islands and encourage past visitors to come more often.”
The DetailsSouthwest Airlineswww.southwest.com