There is a palpable excitement about Southwest Airlines beginning service from the West Cost to Hawaii.
There may be even more anticipation about the carrier providing interisland service. Many folks are dreaming about the days when Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines beat each other’s brains out with frequent flights and low fares. Throw in a third interisland airline — go! — though, and the economics simply didn’t work.
First, Aloha folded in 2008 after 59 years of service. The Great Recession took care of go! shortly afterward, leaving Hawaiian as the only interisland jet service. Over the last decade, Hawaiian Airlines has been a profitable, reliable carrier. It should be able to easily tolerate a new competitor in the interisland market.
We know there are already ridiculously low introductory fares being offered by Southwest and matched — in most cases — by Hawaiian. But don’t expect the blood-letting of the days of the three-airline war. It may seem nice in the short run, but it would harm service here in the long run.
No, we will be much better served by a reasoned competition that, yes, lowers interisland fares. But that competition should leave both carriers operating profitably on all routes.
So, yes, we wholeheartedly welcome Southwest Airlines to the Hawaii market. But we are also grateful for the way Hawaiian has built itself into one of the most respected airlines in the industry during the last decade. Hawaiian has a modern fleet and employs a lot of our friends and neighbors.
We look forward to many years of intense, responsible competition between Southwest and Hawaiian. Lower fares and healthy bottom lines need not be incompatible.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.