Southwest Airlines planning flights to Hawaii, company says

Southwest Airlines announces intent for flights to Hawaii

Summer may be over but there's plenty of time to plan for next season.

The carrier intends to start ticket sales next year.

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. While service details are still limited, the plans are definitely official - and are listed on the company's investor relations page.

Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly called the announcement a "day long-awaited" by customers, fans and employees. "We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years".

Southwest Airlines has launched its new service to Hawaii, Hawaii News Now reports.

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.

Many more offer fights with one or more stops along the way, though.

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

Dallas-based Southwest will start selling tickets to the popular vacation destination in 2018.

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, also welcomed and invited Southwest's announcement and Tom Nealon, Southwest's President, responded adding, "The unmatched combination of our People and low fares with nothing to hide will be a game-changer in the U.S.to Hawaii market".

Airline experts said despite the increased competition between Hawaii and the mainland that fares are not expected to change much because it costs more per mile to operate Southwest's aircraft than the larger planes operated by Hawaiian Airlines and other carriers.

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.

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".

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