HONOLULU — Southwest Airlines has announced that it plans to offer Hawaii interisland service at prices lower than those currently available.
The airline on Wednesday made the interisland announcement, the Star-Advertiser reported . Southwest created ripples through the state last year when it announced it would begin service between the mainland and Hawaii.
Hawaiian Airlines dominates the interisland market with more than a 90 percent share, the Star-Advertiser reported.
Southwest said that when it enters a market, prices historically come down in part because of the airline's policy of no bag fees and no change fees.
Southwest President Tom Nealon, who is in Hawaii to meet with community and business leaders, said he recently purchased an interisland ticket and that it was "very expensive."
"We will come in with lower fares, and not introductory fares. We have the structure to offer low fares," Nealon said. "It's got to be a price that's competitive and the lowest price in the market."
In opting to offer interisland flights, Southwest will be venturing into a sector that most recently has seen Aloha Airlines, go! and Island Air all go out of business while trying to compete against Hawaiian Airlines.
Nealon said Island Air's shutdown in November had nothing to do with Southwest's decision to venture into interisland service.
"We make our decisions based on what we can do in the market," he said. "This is the market we want to be in and we think it's underserved and lacks competition even with Island Air (previously) in play. We think we can provide a great service. We've been meeting with different community groups and we're hearing loud and clear there's not a lot of competition in the market."
Nealon said Southwest plans to begin selling tickets between the mainland and Hawaii before the end of 2018, adding that a target of offering interisland service "within a year would be fantastic."
He said mainland-Hawaii flights initially will come from California.