Southwest Airlines is taking steps to secure space at Lihue Airport.
The carrier filed an application with the state, and it will be discussed at a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on April 13.
Southwest will pay around $13,000 a month in rent.
It recently secured space at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.
Offering flights from the West Coast to the Hawaiian islands is their goal, and their CEO told investors last October that inter-island flights are also a priority.
Aviation analyst Peter Forman said the airline’s recent request for rental space on the Garden Isle could mean several things.
“It could possibly mean inter-island flights, but it also could mean they’d be flying from the mainland to Lihue. The jury’s still out. We got to see what happens,” Forman said.
If southwest does fly direct to Kauai from the mainland, it will join American, Delta, Hawaiian, United and Alaska who all offer direct flights to Kauai from various cities along the West Coast.
Whether Southwest flies direct or inter-island, their introduction to Hawaii’s market will initially be a plus for travelers according to Forman.
“Any time a new entrant comes into a market usually there’s sales when they first come in so there can be some opportunities there. Also, people who are members of their frequent flyer program that’s a big deal.”
Just how big a difference will Southwest make in the long run?
“I don’t really think its going to change the pricing overall, that much,” Forman said. “But I think its going to bring some real short term benefits to some people.”
The carrier is still waiting for federal approval from the FAA to fly across the Pacific Ocean.
There’s still no word on when the airline could begin flying to Hawaii.