Sunday, October 29, 2017

Southwest mulls inter-island Hawaii flights

Southwest Airlines is giving “serious consideration” to operating inter-island flights in Hawaii, chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said.

Inter-island flying is one of the many issues being examined by Dallas-based Southwest as it prepares to launch service between the continental US and Hawaii next year, Kelly told analysts and reporters during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Kelly said launching Hawaii service is the “big-ticket item” for Southwest in 2018.

The airline has not offered details of the service, other than it plans to start selling tickets next year. Kelly noted that Southwest internally is still working through “a lot of questions” about its planned Hawaii service, including exactly when it will start. “It feels like first quarter [2018] we might be in a position where we’re prepared to reveal details,” he said.

JP Morgan airline analyst Jamie Baker suggested during the earnings call that Southwest could use the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft it will fly to Hawaii to operate flights between islands before flying back to the US mainland. “It looks to me like you’d have adequate time to do some inter-island turns,” Baker said.

“Yes, there’s nothing that would rule it out,” Kelly responded, adding that inter-island flying “is an item of interest that customers in Hawaii have and the state of Hawaii has.”

Kelly said Southwest executives are “intrigued” by inter-island flights. “Step one, of course, is getting from California to Hawaii but … we’ll have serious consideration for inter-island flights,” he said. “Even if we don’t do that initially, it’s something that we would obviously continue to consider over time.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

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