Southwest has long spoken of plans to begin flights to Hawaii, making it clear that it was only a matter of when, not if, they serve the destination. "We know we'll get through the FAA process in time to sell tickets next year, but until the FAA gives us better indications of the authorization timeline, we're not going to speculate and put a date out there. We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years", said Kelly.
Southwest executives also acknowledged that they are evaluating offering interisland travel - a move that would cut into Hawaiian Airlines' stranglehold in the islands and potentially hurt smaller local carriers Island Air, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air. We're thrilled to share our intention to bring our world-famous hospitality and value to the Hawaiian Islands! 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.
"Hawaii is a market that we've long said we would like to serve one day", Tammy Romo, Southwest's chief financial officer said in a earnings call over the summer.
Many more offer fights with one or more stops along the way, though. David Ige, who shared his welcome with Southwest Employees.
The company announced Wednesday at a company gathering and in a blog post that it will begin selling tickets to the Pacific Ocean vacation destination in 2018. Another big key in the Hawaii announcement is the launch of Southwest's Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which offer expanded range compared to other models.More news: Russia Protests Flag Removal at Seized San Francisco Consulate
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"Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the USA transpacific market", the post stated.
Southwest says its capacity plans for 2018 remain unchanged with the Hawaii announcement.
American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines all offer service to and from Hawaii, and analysts will be watching to see if Southwest's entry has any effect on prices. The MAX will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we'll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date.
Because this will be big news for the media and our Investors who have also waited for this day, we've also posted video of the Employee announcement on swamedia.com, where you'll also be able to read our news release.