Yesterday, Southwest Airlines officially announced their intentions to start service to Hawaii. This has long been rumored to be of interest to Southwest, but now it is official. Specific flight details have yet to be announced, however, Southwest plans to start selling tickets in 2018 for the new service.
“A day long-awaited by our Customers, fans, and more than 55,000 of the world’s most-loved airline Employees is finally within sight—a day that will showcase your Hospitality, about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S.,” Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly told thousands of Southwest Employees at a Company gathering in Southern California. “Hawaii is an important place for Southwest Airlines because so many people count on us to take them everywhere they want to go reliably and affordably. We’re ready and excited to address a request we’ve heard for years.”
At the beginning of this month, Southwest became the first airline in North America to launch scheduled service utilizing Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across its existing network, bringing increased levels of efficiency and range over Next Generation Boeing 737 models. The carrier announced it will embark on a process to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for Extended Operations (ETOPS), a regulatory requirement to operate between the mainland and the Hawaiian islands.
“The launch of our ETOPS work begins the next chapter of Southwest Airlines. We’re thrilled to bring Hawaii next year as an option to more than 115 million Customers who already fly with us, annually,” said Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer.
While route-specific details have yet to be released, it is anticipated that Southwest will offer service from two of their California hubs, Los Angeles and Oakland to Honolulu and Kauai.