Southwest Airlines planning flights to Hawaii, company says

Southwest Airlines. PC Eric Salard

The company announced Wednesday at a company gathering and in a blog post that it will begin selling tickets to the Pacific Ocean vacation destination in 2018. Airlines with aircraft that fly long distances overwater require special approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for what the industry calls ETOPS.

At the beginning of this month, Southwest became the first airline in North America to launch scheduled service utilizing Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across its existing network, bringing increased levels of efficiency and range over Next Generation Boeing 737 models. And it's also relatively big, with 175 seats in Southwest's configuration.

It won't be long before you'll be able to book a Southwest Airlines flight to Hawaii.

The low-fare airline has been unable to reach the island state until now because it was beyond the reach of the Boeing 737 jets that has made up its fleet.

Service details are to be announced at a later date, according to Southwest Airlines.

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Southwest Airlines is now the third-busiest carrier in the USA, and a study by the University of Virginia this year found that Southwest still has the power to force its rivals to lower fares to stay competitive. Southwest received nine MAX 8s on October 1 and will have 14 by the end of this year. Both airlines have added flights in smaller California cities, including San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento, as well as at the two big airports - Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"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". Later that year, Southwest began flying to Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

As for ticket prices, Watterson said, Southwest officials have looked at how much other carriers charge for flights to Hawaii and believe the carrier can charge less.

Southwest Airlines, the US 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.

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