Pack your lunch. Southwest is flying to Hawaii

Pack your lunch. Southwest is flying to Hawaii

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.

Southwest executives also acknowledged that they are evaluating offering interisland travel - a move that would cut into Hawaiian Airlines' stranglehold in the islands and potentially hurt smaller local carriers Island Air, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air. It will initially operate ETOPS-equipped Boeing 737-800s to Hawaii, before switching to the 737 Max 8 which it placed into revenue service earlier this month. The airline hasn't yet announced any specifics regarding routes or frequency of flights.

The Dallas-based airline will embark on a process to gain extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS) approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

"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", Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said in an announcement to employees in southern California.

Southwest President Tom Nealon joined the announcement via satellite from Honolulu's famed Waikiki Beach and introduced the Governor of Hawaii, the Hon.

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"We anticipate fares will drop", he said. "We know we'll get through the FAA process in time to sell tickets next year, but until the FAA gives us better indications of the authorization timeline, we're not going to speculate and put a date out there".

Southwest Airlines has launched its new service to Hawaii, Hawaii News Now reports.

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.

"On average, our fares will be lower than theirs or bring down the market price". "One hundred and seventy-five seats in a 737-800 is a different scale of economy and we can keep costs low by higher efficiencies".

"The bigger the airplanes, the lower the cost per seat mile, so the airlines such as Hawaiian and United who offer the bigger planes to and from Hawaii do have the cost advantage", said Forman.

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