Late last week, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the new service to Hawaii via Southwest Airlines has been delayed as a result of the federal government shutdown.
The delay stems from aviation inspectors being among those experiencing a temporary work layoff. Aviation inspectors are vital in the process that results in operations being approved.
Now in its fourth week, the shutdown is the longest in United State history.
“Southwest’s certification to approve operations to Hawaii is delayed during this time because of the partial shutdown,” Gregory Martin, assistant administrator for communications, told the Los Angeles Times in an email.
The airlines announced on Dec. 20 that it was focusing on launching its service to Hawaii instead of applying for the U.S.-Cuba opportunity.
“After further internal analysis, Southwest has decided to focus its expansion efforts on inaugurating service to Hawaii, where we hope to begin operations the first quarter 2019, subject to the receipt of required authorizations from the FAA,” the airline wrote in its Dec. 20 letter.
There are likely to be industry effects caused by Southwest entering the Hawaii market. Known for its low costs that lead to something known as the ‘Southwest Effect’ results in routes featuring the carrier experiencing a price drop immediately after entering the market.
When Southwest announced in October that it would begin service to Hawaii, analysts wondered if the Southwest Effect would spread. The airline also has future plans to offer an island-to-island service, but competitors aren’t too worried about the added competition.
“It’s a very competitive marketplace,” he said in an October 2017 TV interview when discussing Southwest’s entry into the market. “Adding one more competitor into that marketplace is unlikely to have the kind of effect of adding a competitor when a carrier is sitting on a monopoly, for example.”
Hawaii airports Southwest will fly to:
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, formerly known as Honolulu International Airport (Oahu)
Lihue Airport (Kauai)
Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (The Big Island)
Kahului Airport (Maui)
California airports Southwest will fly from:
Oakland International Airport
San Diego International Airport
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport
Sacramento International Airport