Southwest Airlines has made a deal to partner up with WestJet, which is the Southwest Airlines of Canada. This has me thinking about a number of things, but chiefly about Hawaii.
I tend to think about Hawaii a lot, anyway, because it’s nice to think about. Sometimes in very long, meetingful meetings at the office, I think about Hawaii with great vigor.
At this moment, I’m thinking about Hawaii because WestJet flies to Hawaii and Southwest does not. So when Southwest announced its plan to sell tickets on WestJet through a code-sharing agreement starting next year, I had to wonder, what about Hawaii?
Southwest used to have a code-sharing agreement with ATA, which flew to Hawaii. But ATA went kaput. One naturally wonders what WestJet can offer, Hawaii-wise.
Maybe not much. Most Americans don’t want to fly to Vancouver to catch a flight to Hawaii. And the U.S. government won’t allow a foreign carrier to fly between two U.S. destinations. (See Virgin America, trials of.)
Southwest could fly that route itself, but not easily. Southwest has an all-737 fleet but it doesn’t have the 737-800 models with the range for a Hawaii flight. (WestJet does.) As the Southwest blog explained, the company’s planes are not equipped and its crews are not trained for flights over large bodies of water. Also worth noting — Southwest doesn’t do red-eye flights, which keep Hawaiian routes moving.
“I don’t know if Hawaii will ever make sense for us,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly recently told the Chicago Tribune.
So maybe another partner? But who? I guess we’ll see.