“Southwest Effect” Causes Alaska Airlines to End Two Hawaiian Routes

In the old days (1993), the Department of Transportation coined a term known as the “Southwest Effect.” The term was used to describe the changes in air travel that invariably result from Southwest’s entry into new markets. Once Southwest enters the market, it has 2 classic elements:

  • Southwest offers dramatically lower air fares than established airlines and;
  • The established airlines, in that specific market, lower their prices (and thus, reduce their profits) from the direct competition with Southwest

In other words, Southwest shakes up the market in every city that it flies to.


At the beginning of the year, Southwest began flying from the west coast to the Hawaiian islands and intra-island. Since then, they have also increased the number of intra-island flights and Alaska Airlines (and I assume other airlines) have started to feel the heat.

According to HawaiiNewsNow.com, officials at Alaska Airlines have announced that they will be ending two routes to Hawaii in spring 2020 following the completion of winter service.

Alaska revealed its plans to end, both, flights between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Kona International Airport (KOA) and between Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and Kona (KOA) on March 19.


The “Southwest Effect” is real and we’ve seen it in countless cities throughout the states.

The most interesting part about this story is that Southwest is set to begin service from Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) to Kona in mid-January 2020. You read that correctly…Southwest doesn’t even fly to Kona from the mainland yet.

Alaska has a strong route network presence in Hawaii, but the carrier has been dealing with an increase in competition from Southwest Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Travelers have benefited, though, as the competition has resulted in lower fares to Hawaii.

There has been quite a bit of news arriving from the Alaska Newroom lately as this comes just days after Alaska announced its frequent flyer partnership with American Airlines had changed and members with Alaska’s mileage plan will no longer be able to redeem miles for domestic or international rewards flights.

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