HONOLULU (KHON2) - Southwest Airlines confirms it will be flying to all four counties in Hawaii.
While this announcement follows the tragic death of a Southwest passenger, the company is still moving forward with its plans to start selling tickets to Hawaii by the end of this year.
This is a big reveal, but right now Southwest is keeping their lips sealed about interisland flights.
When we tried to find out how this will impact the tourism industry, Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association tells us the competition for interisland travel is needed.
Southwest Airlines wants to spread its wings to Lihue, Honolulu, Kahului, and Kona. There still has been no mention of flying between the islands. Details on exact dates, routes, and price have not been revealed either. We do know that the company already has permits to use airport space on Kauai and Oahu.
"I think competition is always good, at the end of the day consumers and residents benefit and so it should be a welcomed addition," said President of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association Mufi Hannemann.
However, the former Honolulu Mayor does have concerns. He wants to make sure Southwest provides good service and is in it for the long haul if Southwest decides to offer interisland flights.
"Because of the numerous examples and experiences that we've gone through in the past, those that have tried to penetrate and enter into the interisland market, I think that's going to be important," said Hannemann, "that this is not a test phase, that they are not doing it to see how it's going to go and they pull it. I'd like to know if they are in for the long haul and if they are the real deal."
A company spokesman didn't say which mainland cities Southwest will fly from to Hawaii, but did hint at the fact it'll be from California saying quote: "The California gateway cities news is still forthcoming."
Southwest says this is part of its growth plan this year and it's going to need it because bookings are down since the fatal engine explosion. Jennifer Riordan was killed after being partially sucked out of a broken window on Flight 1380.
Before making the announcement about Hawaii, Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said today:
"It remains a somber time for the Southwest Family following the Flight 1380 accident, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Riordan family, and all of our Customers on the flight."