Southwest Airlines Announces Intention To Serve Hawaii

A new Southwest Airlines 737-8MAX

Kelly said he made an announcement last night at an employees-only meeting.

Southwest chairman and CEO, Gary Kelly, said Hawaii service has been requested for years.

Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson, who worked for Hawaiian Airlines as vice president of planning and revenue management from 2011-2013, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the company was purposely ambiguous about when flights would begin to and from Hawaii because that will depend on when ETOPS authorization is received.

Southwest Airlines announced on Wednesday that it has plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii with an ultimate goal of extended operations.

The Dallas-based low-priced carrier expects to begin selling tickets for travel to Hawaii in 2018 and plans to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS) to operate regular flights between the mainland USA and Hawaii.

Southwest Airlines is now the third-busiest carrier in the US, and a study by the University of Virginia this year found that Southwest still has the power to force its rivals to lower fares to stay competitive. The latest version of the planemaker's best-selling jet, the 737 Max, can fly farther and is more fuel efficient than older models. The company said it will begin the process to approve the aircraft with the FAA very soon.

The Company's aircraft and available seat miles plans for 2018 are unchanged with today's announcement.

As for ticket prices, Watterson said, Southwest officials have looked at how much other carriers charge for flights to Hawaii and believe the carrier can charge less. Southwest is now operating nine MAX 8s and expects to have 14 in service by the end of the year.

The airline said more details of the new service, such as the date it would launch and the mainland cities where the flights would originate, would be released at a later date.

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