Southwest plans flights to Hawaii beginning in 2018

Southwest plans flights to Hawaii beginning in 2018

Southwest Airlines will begin selling tickets to Hawaii next year for service using the carrier's new 175-seat Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Southwest Airlines, the USA carrier known for its lack of seating assignments, short routes and no-frills service late Wednesday announced it plans to start selling tickets for service to Hawaii next year, answering a question that investors and its loyal customers have asked the carrier. It's not yet known which airports will offer direct nonstop service to Hawaii. Inter-island flights are also a possibility. The airline hasn't yet announced any specifics regarding routes or frequency of flights. It must first receive regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for extended over-water operations, a process that will begin soon. And with a major carrier adding flights to Hawaii in 2018, this may be a good time to start.

Gov. David Ige and Southwest's president, Tom Nealon, joined the company's announcement via satellite from Waikiki.

"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.

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Andrew Watterson, executive vice president and chief revenue officer, said the airline expects it could take the FAA one to two years to approve the carrier's application for long-term service to Hawaii. "For us, it's more important to do it properly than doing it a certain date". Southwest received nine MAX 8s on October 1 and will have 14 by the end of this year.

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.

"Our seat-mile costs are below (other airlines serving Hawaii) and we will offer lower fares than now are in the marketplace".

"The bigger the airplanes, the lower the cost per seat mile, so the airlines such as Hawaiian and United who offer the bigger planes to and from Hawaii do have the cost advantage", said Forman. "Low costs come from very efficient operations".

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