As airline analyst Gary Leff tells Thrillist in an email, competitors will be forced to do battle with Southwest's low fares or face the consequences.
"More airlines, more flights to Hawaii means lower fares,” he said. “That's basic supply and demand. And when Southwest enters the market they're likely to offer lower fares still for the PR value. This is good for customers because Southwest's business model involves fewer fees and more legroom."
Leff's words echo a University of Virginia study from earlier this year, which concluded Southwest's entry into new markets caused airfare to fall by 15% to 20% between 2012 and 2015.
In June, after United announced an increase of service to Hawaii with more than 40 daily flights starting December 20, a Southwest spokesperson confirmed the airline's ambitions to fly there as well, writing: "Gary Kelly has made it clear Southwest has its sights on Hawaii, but it is not a market we currently serve." So, it was welcome news this week that Kelly, the airline’s CEO, wrote a blog post detailing the airline's plans to supply nonstop flights from California to Hawaii starting in 2018. Eventually, the carrier hopes to make the scheme a "multi-market offering among our West Coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands."