Southwest Airlines Announces Plans to Launch Service to Hawaii

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Southwest Airlines is planning to offer flights between Hawaii and the mainland and expects tickets to go on sale next year, airline officials said.

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.

The Dallas-based airline made the announcement Wednesday in a joint address by Southwest President Tom Nealon and Hawaii Gov. David Ige to thousands of employees at a company party. It must first receive regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for extended over-water operations, a process that will begin soon.

One of Boeing's latest jets will help the airline fly to the island state.

However, the ETOPS certified 737-800 airplanes will initially fly the routes so that the launch date can be accelerated.

"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, " Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement.

Southwest is known for its competitive fares and customer service. The airline stated that they have been studying pricing on Hawaii routes for a while and believe they will be able to charge less than others.

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.

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