It’s a historical day for Southwest Airlines. The company’s inaugural flight to Hawaii arrived Sunday to a big welcome and a lot of Aloha.
A Hawaiian blessing, hula, and island-themed goodies helped bid farewell to the first passengers on Southwest Airlines from Oakland, California to Honolulu. Several hours later the same excitement was expressed here as the plane touched down.
“I think the focus for us was really looking at how can we ensure and expand the options of visitors to get to the islands,” said Governor David Ige.
Many of these passengers are loyal Southwest customers.
“It was wonderful with the Aloha Spirit and touch of Hawaii,” said the Klan Family from Pennsylvania and Nevada. “We’ve been on approximately the last 30 inaugural flights that Southwest has done.”
“We’ve been waiting over a year for Southwest to fly to Hawaii. We want to get married in Hawaii and we want to bring all our friends to celebrate with us,” said Jennifer Maglaya from California.
Southwest officials say by the end of May, there will be 28 daily flights and roughly 49-thousand new seats in the market. There will be direct flights from Hawaii to 4 California cities: Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento. There are talks of adding more routes like one to Las Vegas.
“It’s always been an important market for us, but it’s exceedingly important at this point because the only market that we didn’t serve that’s really important to Californians were Hawaii markets,” said Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon.
At the end of April, the first interisland flight will begin between Honolulu and Kahului.
The entire flight schedule to and from Hawaii has not been rolled out yet. So we asked if the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes is the cause for that. Officials tell us there is no impact. While Southwest does have 34 Max 8 aircraft, planes flying to Hawaii are Boeing 737-800s.