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Southwest Airlines

Southwest Adds a New Addition to Its Hawaii Network

Southwest Adds a New Addition to Its Hawaii Network
Taylor Rains

Southwest Airlines has added a new addition to its Hawaii network: an interisland hop from Honolulu to Hilo. The first flight was completed on Sunday, January 19th, and will continue to be a regularly scheduled route, running four times daily in each direction.

The executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Ross Birch, said in a statement, “This is going to be a real game-changer for Hilo. It’s going to change our whole perspective on tourism… Having two airlines already is great, Hawaiian and United are both great, but Southwest is something else.”

Southwest is known for its city induction parties. 140 passengers were greeted with music, food, and drinks upon arrival to Hilo on Sunday, and over 2,000 people attended a festival held on Saturday at the Grand Naniloa Hotel to welcome Southwest to the island. Ed Gunderson, the hotel’s manager, said the event was successful, and “the community is really reaching out to embrace Southwest.”

Southwest Hilo Hawaii New Route

In addition to the festivities, couple Tim and Holly Klan, and their son Mark, were on the first flight to Hilo to celebrate Southwest’s expansion. In the last nine years, the family has been to 39 Southwest city openings. The couple explained their dedication in a statement, “We enjoy it, we love Southwest’s hospitality, and they throw a party in both airports, and on the plane. If we’re going to go to a new place, you might as well go on the first day and have a party.”

The Klan’s were not the only ones excited for the new route. Southwest pilot Joseph “Makoa” Reid was one of the pilots of the inaugural flight. He specifically asked to operate the flight due to his 30 years roots in Hamakua. Reid explained, “Getting to fly back here with my airline, with my equipment. This is my singular moment in time…The singular moment of my entire aviation career.”

The Honolulu-Hilo route is just one of the few new routes Southwest opened over the weekend. A Kailua-Kona to Maui route began on Sunday, as well as two new nonstop flights from San Jose and Oakland to Kailua-Kona. Those routes will operate on alternating schedules, with San Jose flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7:55 AM and Oakland flights on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:00 AM.

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Southwest Airlines

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