Southwest Airlines is set to begin offering nonstop flights to and from Las Vegas and Hawaii, beginning June 6. These flights now include stops at California airports.
The Dallas-based carrier, noted for low fares, will offer two daily nonstop flights to and from McCarran International Airport and Honolulu International Airport, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Southwest also will offer two nonstop flights each day to and from Las Vegas and Maui’s Kahului Airport. The ticket price has not been set.
McCarran International Airport is south of downtown Las Vegas, on the east side of the Strip near the Tropicana, MGM Grand, and other major hotel-casinos.
Nonstop flights from Las Vegas to Hawaii are projected to last six hours and 2 minutes. The return flight will be five hours and 45 minutes.
Southwest Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson told the newspaper the flights will occur during the day, so passengers don’t arrive at a late hour.
Southwest later plans to add direct flights from Las Vegas to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii and to Lihue Airport on Kauai, the newspaper reported. These will be the first flights ever from Las Vegas to those islands.
‘Substantial Leisure Demand’
Watterson said there has been a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel.
We’ve been wanting to do this for awhile,” he said.
On a trip to Hawaii, Watterson and other Southwest executives learned that Las Vegas was the city that residents wanted to travel to off the islands.
The Las Vegas-to-Hawaii flights will be on Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration took MAX jets out of circulation in March 2019 after two deadly crashes. Last November, federal authorities permitted the aircraft to return to service.
Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, noted that Hawaii has “always been a top destination for Las Vegans, as well as Las Vegas for Hawaiians.”
“Travel between two leisure destinations doesn’t always work, but in this case, it really does,” she said.
Vassiliadis said remodeling work has been completed at the airport gates that Southwest uses. She added that the airport will make additional adjustments to accommodate more Southwest passengers, the newspaper reported.
During the coronavirus pandemic, airport travel at McCarran has been down by millions of arriving and departing passengers.
Tourism experts say this has contributed to a slump in the local gaming economy.
However, with the nationwide rollout of vaccinations and stimulus checks, tourism has picked up in Las Vegas. This year, in March, more than 2.5 million arriving and departing passengers used McCarran International Airport, according to the Department of Aviation.
The March air travel totals are up nearly 60 percent from the 1.6 million who used McCarran in February.
In another effort to transport large numbers of people to Southern Nevada, a high-speed train is being proposed from Apple Valley, Calif., to Las Vegas. The company planning to build the train has said construction could start before July 1.
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