Southwest Hawaii flights may now face bigger problems than we thought. Aren’t they supposed to be behind us? The challenges reported may impact the number of flights to Hawaii that Southwest can operate and talk about higher prices ahead. If Southwest raises prices, obviously Hawaiian Airlines will follow. Although it has been widely reported, we focus here on the impact on flights in Hawaii.
Changes threatening Southwest Hawaii flights:
- Prices will have to increase, including fares from Hawaii, as the airline does not have the capacity to meet current and projected travel demand. Southwest’s CEO recently said they could do a lot more flying if it weren’t for the pilot shortage.
- Having to make more money on fewer flights and fewer passengers. Southwest said it was “looking for rising revenue on declining capacity.” This is the result of the lack of pilots to perform more flights.
- Some Southwest Hawaii flights may disappear. Since Southwest can’t fly all of its planes even as it expands its flights to Hawaii, more changes in flight frequency seem to be on the horizon.
- More flight seasonality in Hawaii will occur. A clue to this from Southwest is the fact that they have already started cycling on some of their off-schedule Hawaii flights, only to bring them back to their schedule later. We therefore anticipate both true seasonality depending on the time of year in their future flight schedule to Hawaii, but also flights only on certain days of the week on a given route, as Alaska Airlines does to Hawaii.
Southwest cannot fly all of its planes at this time.
It goes back even further to when the airline, during Covid, slowed its acquisition of employees and even encouraged some early retirements, among other things. And Southwest, like other airlines, underestimated the surge in travel demand and the speed with which it has returned. This all falls into place and not in the best way for travelers from Hawaii or the Southwest.
For most airline employees, with the exception of pilots, this problem has been solved, or at least as much as possible. But when it comes to drivers, that’s a problem Southwest can’t easily solve. It recently hit the fan, according to their CEO Bob Jordan.
During their Q3 earnings call, Southwest CEO said“If we could fly all our planes, that is, we had enough pilots to fly the plane in place, we would be about 5%, 6%, 7%, 8% more capacity or of ASM (Available Seat Miles). ) this year right now. That’s roughly how much we could still fly. It’s really more the factor than it’s the mix of short-haul, medium-haul flying , long-haul.
What is Southwest doing to fix the problem?
Jordan said: “We are on track to hire 1,200 pilots this year and 2,100 pilots next year as planned. We wanted to restore our operational reliability. Going forward, we believe we have capacity that is better suited seasonally to demand. Hiring and training our pilots continues to be the growth driver as we move forward. We continue to attract high-quality pilot candidates, and the training program to onboard a new pilot at Southwest Airlines is strong.
- First and foremost, hire those 1,200 pilots this year and 2,100 next year if things go as planned.
- Creativity has also entered the job search at Southwest and other airlines. For example, the photo above of a pilot from the Southwest and ffirst team father and daughter officer. We see more and more of these creative job opportunities.
- Outside of Southwest’s direct jurisdiction, other proposed opportunities include reducing experience hour requirements. The mandatory retirement age could also be changed from 65 to 67.
- Airlines, including Southwest, seek to attract pilots from all possible sources. One of them was the regional airlines, which lost their pilots to the major carriers.
Southwest pilot plans could include foreign pilots.
The airline plans to apply to the United States for permission for H1B visa holders from other countries to be Southwest pilots. They have a pilot in mind to hire, or so they said. Of course, a pilot would be a way to test those uncharted waters.
SWAPA, the South West Pilots Union, has none, one pilot or hundreds. Recently, while stating that they were unaware of this new development, SWAPA issued a letter of concern over what it sees as a threat to its union members. The union does not like the precedent this would set.
This industry-wide pilot problem started years ago.
The shortage of qualified pilots has been a problem for several years and for a myriad of reasons. Among them, many pilots reach the mandatory retirement age (65). The centuries-old journey of military pilots becoming commercial pilots has slowed considerably. Then, when Covid hit, more pilots left with great retirement offers, and others just wanted to change jobs.
Airlines serving Hawaii, including American, Delta, Hawaiian and Southwest, have all implemented new training programs with dozens of flight schools. But it will take time and the problem is expected to persist for years.
There are currently some 135,000 airline and commercial pilots in the United States. It is estimated that airlines will need around 30,000 additional pilots by the end of this decade.
Do you have any concerns about the impact of these developments on flights from Southwest Hawaii?
Our first thought is that if inter-island flights are removed, we could see the end of the current $39 airfares between islands and return to the old stratospheric fares for such short flights. This could be a good week actually to book inter-island flights. U g.