Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Airliner to offer flights to Hawaii in 2018

Airliner to offer flights to Hawaii in 2018

"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. Travelers have wanted Southwest to offer flights to Hawaii for years, and Kelly said it's one of the top questions from employees. It will initially operate ETOPS-equipped Boeing 737-800s to Hawaii, before switching to the 737 Max 8 which it placed into revenue service earlier this month.

Southwest Airlines plans to start service to Hawaii at the beginning of next year.

Southwest intends to launch the application process for Extended Operations Authorization (ETOPS) with the Federal Aviation Administration soon.

The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.

But Watterson refuted the notion that Southwest won't be able to offer lower fares.

"We see prices higher than they need to be and we anticipate lowering fares", Watterson said in an interview.

Boeing and Southwest must wait for FAA approval for long over-the-water passenger flights for the 737 Max before it can begin service.

The aircraft is less noisy and more fuel efficient than other models.

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

A new reservation system that allows for more complicated itineraries and overnight trips is also enabling Southwest to add Hawaii flights.

The Hawaii routes will be serviced most likely by the airline's new planes. "We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright".

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