Southwest plans flights to Hawaii beginning in 2018

Southwest plans flights to Hawaii beginning in 2018

"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 chairman and CEO, Gary Kelly, told company employees at an event 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.

Southwest will become the sixth United States airline serving Hawaii from the contiguous USA, FlightGlobal schedules data show.

Southwest Airlines plans to start service to Hawaii at the beginning of next year. Add Southwest to your list of potential airliners as they'll begin selling tickets in 2018.

Southwest doesn't know the exact timing of the service, and it first needs to apply for Federal Aviation Administration authorization to operate the long-distance flight. The initial service will be from California, said Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson, without elaborating on specific routes. The planes are more fuel efficient and can fly longer distances than older models.

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

The new service will test whether Southwest, long known for short routes, can compete against larger carriers on flights that take more than five hours from the U.S.'s West Coast.

"We wouldn't be so bold as to say we'll start flying in October or November or July of 2018 and not go through the FAA process", Watterson said.

You may have heard us purposefully changing our language ahead of tonight's announcement to say it's a matter of when, and not if we serve Hawaii. "We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright".

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