Summer may be over but there's plenty of time to plan for next season. And with a major carrier adding flights to Hawaii in 2018, this may be a good time to start.
Southwest Airlines announced on Wednesday that it has plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii with an ultimate goal of extended operations. While service details are still limited, the plans are definitely official - and are listed on the company's investor relations page.
"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. "We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years."
You heard that right. We’re thrilled to share our intention to bring our world-famous hospitality and value to the Hawaiian Islands! pic.twitter.com/NoVNXlsSH7— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 12, 2017
Southwest intends to launch the application process for Extended Operations Authorization (ETOPS) with the Federal Aviation Administration soon.
"The launch of our ETOPS work begins the next chapter of Southwest Airlines. We're thrilled to bring Hawaii next year as an option to more than 115 million Customers who already fly with us, annually," said Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven.
The company hasn't yet released plans for the flights or how Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plays into them; however, a quick look at flight plans shows only one airline, Delta, offering direct non-stop flights between Atlanta and the Aloha State.
Many more offer fights with one or more stops along the way, though.
Full statement posted by Southwest CEO Gary Kelly:
I just shared with our Employees at our Spirit Party at Universal Studios: we’re going to Hawaii, baby! 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!
We intend to begin selling tickets in 2018, and while we’re not quite ready to offer our Customers specific schedule or market information, tonight’s announcement is going to be big news within the industry. Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the U.S. transpacific market.
You may have heard us purposefully changing our language ahead of tonight’s announcement to say it’s a matter of when, and not if we serve Hawaii. Why now? We need to take our Extended Operations (ETOPS) work to the next level and gain FAA certification of ETOPS-equipped aircraft in our fleet and establish required operational processes to offer our Customers nonstop service they expect from California to one of the world’s top leisure destinations. The MAX will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we’ll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date. The rest of the work is lined up to bring the performance enhancements of the MAX to what we intend to build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands.
Because this will be big news for the media and our Investors who have also waited for this day, we’ve also posted video of the Employee announcement on swamedia.com, where you’ll also be able to read our news release.Mahalo to you all as we work to bring America’s Most Loved airline to the shores of Hawaii–and I find it fitting that’s about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S!