United Airlines and Southwest could not differ more when it comes to how each approaches service to Hawaii.
Southwest’s entry into the Hawaiian market has caused ripples. This has concerned some legacy airline employees who fear cutbacks. But for United, which offers more service to Hawaii than any other mainland carrier, the key is offering a different product than Southwest.
In a note meant to reassure employees that United will stay strong in Hawaii, HNL General Manager Ernie Young painted a stark contrast between Southwest and United:
Our strategy is focused on remaining competitive by serving as many markets as possible to offer our customers the ability to get to Hawaii in one stop from anywhere in the world. We’re also adding seats from our DEN, IAH, ORD, EWR and IAD hubs, and we’re offering flights during different times to provide maximum connectivity to customers with domestic and international connections.
It’s all about connections. It’s about getting people from anywhere in the USA or in major cities around the world to Hawaii with only one stop.
United currently operates up to 45 daily flights from the mainland to Hawaii. In the other direction, it also serves Tokyo, Guam, and a five-stop Island Hopper Route. Combined, that will total 12,859 flights in 2019.
Meanwhile, Southwest has taken a totally different approach. Southwest’s initial foray into the Hawaiian market from the West Coast is focused on West Coast point-to-point traffic. Southwest does not operate redeye flights, eliminating the possibility to easily fly between Hawaii and the Midwest or East Coast on Southwest.
And that seems to be the plan going forward – some do not even see it as a liability. In an interview with Chris McGinnis at SFGate.com, United President Scott Kirby made exactly that point.
United continues to view its primary competition to the islands as legacy carriers, not Southwest. While the Hawaii ramp up in Denver was certainly geared toward discouraging Southwest from starting service, United…at least publically…sees a very different business model.