Southwest Moves Closer to Launching Hawaii Flights

Mar 18, 2018

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Back in October 2017, Southwest finally made a long-awaited announcement via a casual Twitter reply: The low-cost carrier would launch flights to Hawaii. The obvious questions have been pondered since: What routes would Southwest fly? And when would the flights begin?

We know that Southwest’s Hawaii service will launch with its 737-800s before switching to its newest 737 MAX. In addition, Southwest has said that it will start with operations from California, a huge market for the low-cost carrier. But the timing and the Hawaiian destinations are less settled.

In an earnings call in January, Southwest’s CEO set the goal to launch Hawaii flights “by the end of the year,” but noted to investors that the exact timetable was out of the airline’s control. That’s because there’s a bunch of steps that airlines have to go through to launch a new flight. Back in 2016, Southwest learned the hard way that everything has to be approved before launching a new route.

Well, one of those critical steps was completed this week, which gives us an idea of the first Hawaii launch market. On Friday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Southwest received a permit to operate at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).

Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara told the Star-Advertiser that the DOT is “working with the airline to accommodate its logistical needs.” And the next steps would be for Southwest Airlines to get Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) clearance, to operate flights to Hawaii.

Featured image by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

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