South­west adding Hawaii

San Francisco Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

South­west Air­lines is fi­nally go­ing to start fly­ing to Hawaii, and a top ex­ec­u­tive says ticket prices will get cheaper.

Flights will be­gin next year or in 2019, the dis­count car­rier said. The ini­tial ser­vice will be from Cal­i­for­nia, said Chief Rev­enue Of­fi­cer An­drew Wat­ter­son, with­out elab­o­rat­ing on spe­cific routes.

The new ser­vice will test whether South­west can com­pete against larger car­ri­ers on flights that take more than five hours from the West Coast. While some ri­vals of­fer pre­mium cab­ins with roomier seats, full meals and more legroom, South­west’s no-frills ser­vice is all coach class, with only snacks.

Start­ing in De­cem­ber, United plans to boost ser­vice on 11 routes between the main­land and Hawaii. It is is adding flights from its hubs in Chicago, Den­ver, Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco.

“We don’t see South­west hav­ing suc­cess in Hawaii due to an in­fe­rior prod­uct and an al­ready crowded mar­ket­place,” Hunter Keay, a Wolfe Re­search an­a­lyst, said in a note to clients this week, in which he spec­u­lated on po­ten­tial ser­vice. “We ex­pect South­west will bleed mar­gins here for a cou­ple years be­fore scal­ing back or ex­it­ing out­right.”

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