Southwest drops in at Kahului

The first Southwest Airlines test flight to Kahului Airport nears the runway Monday afternoon as Maui residents, airline employees and family members look on. “That was cool to see the first plane,” said Jerry Potter (third from left) of Wailuku. Potter said he welcomed the competition Southwest will bring to the Hawaii market. “Competition and Southwest brought family home.” One airline employee watching from the ground who declined to give her name said the experience on Maui has been positive. “I’m just happy to be here,” she said. “Everybody at this airport is so friendly. This is the nicest airport I’ve seen.” Southwest completed test flights from Oakland, Calif., and from Dallas to Honolulu earlier this month; the tests are part of the federal certification that Southwest must complete before offering flights to Hawaii.

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo