Southwest Airlines Announces Intention to Serve Hawaii Following Years of Speculation

Southwest expects to use ETOPS-configured 737 MAX aircraft on the Hawaiian flights (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

For years now, enthusiasts, frequent fliers, and the airline industry as a whole have been speculating that Southwest Airlines would at some point commence service to Hawaii, the U.S. state located 2,390 miles from California.

The airline anticipates beginning flights to the Pacific islands next year. On Wednesday, Chairman and CEO of the airline, Gary Kelly announced plans for the company to submit an application with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin service to the state next year. The airline will need to obtain approval for Extended Operations (ETOPS) before they are able to embark on these new flights.

One of Boeing’s latest jets will help the airline fly to the island state. The Dallas-based carrier expects to use their new 737 MAX 8 on some of these routes after taking delivery of the aircraft back in June.

However, the ETOPS certified 737-800 airplanes will initially fly the routes so that the launch date can be accelerated. The airline plans to have over ten MAX aircrafts in service by the end of this year.

“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. We’re ready and excited to address a request we’ve heard for years,” said Kelly.

Southwest is known to drive prices down on routes it operates. 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.

“We anticipate fares will drop,” said Andrew Watterson, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the airline.

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, also welcomed and invited Southwest’s announcement and Tom Nealon, Southwest’s President, responded adding, “The unmatched combination of our People and low fares with nothing to hide will be a game-changer in the U.S. to Hawaii market.”

For now, no destinations have been confirmed, but the airline has said that it intends to fly to Honolulu and Kauai, mainly from California.

Mateen Kontoravdis

Mateen Kontoravdis

Mateen has been interested in aviation from a very young age. He got his first model airplane at six and has been airplane spotting since he was nine years old. He has always had a passion for aviation and loves learning about different aspects within the industry. In addition to writing for AirlineGeeks, Mateen is also an editor for his high school’s newspaper. You can also find him on Instagram (@Plane.Photos) where he enjoys sharing his aviation photography with thousands of people everyday.
Mateen Kontoravdis