The Dallas-based low-priced carrier expects to begin selling tickets for travel to Hawaii in 2018 and plans to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS) to operate regular flights between the mainland USA and Hawaii.
The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there. While service details are still limited, the plans are definitely official - and are listed on the company's investor relations page.
Tickets will go on sale next year, Southwest said in a statement.
Customer-specific schedules or market information isn't yet available, but CEO Gary Kelly wrote in a blog on the Southwest Airlines website they want to "build into a multi-market offering among [their] west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands".
"We anticipate fares will drop", he said. "For us, it's more important to do it properly than doing it a certain date". Southwest is now operating nine MAX 8s and expects to have 14 in service by the end of the year.
That's right-the day is finally here that we can say we're going to add some Aloha to our world-famous Hospitality, as Southwest Airlines will soon serve the Hawaiian Islands!
Watterson said the airline, which is the first operator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, will use those 175-seat planes for Hawaii service.
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. The airline is expected to bring its low-fare, bags-fly-free, no-fee model to the marketplace.