Travelers have wanted Southwest to offer flights to Hawaii for years, and Kelly said it's one of the top questions from employees. "We're thrilled to bring Hawaii next year as an option to more than 115 million Customers who already fly with us, annually", said Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer.
Since Southwest Airlines began to challenge the established major airlines in the 1990s, the low-cost carrier has forced its competitors to lower fares in what industry insiders call "the Southwest Effect". But earlier this month it became the first USA carrier to take delivery of the new Boeing 737 Max, a longer range version of Boeing's workhorse single aisle jet.
Southwest Airlines ended years of speculation, promising low fares for its new service to Hawaii. "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".
In a Wednesday statement about the new service Southwest said it was announcing its "intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization".
"We wouldn't be so bold as to say we'll start flying in October or November or July of 2018 and not go through the FAA process", Watterson said.
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Watterson said the airline, which is the first operator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, will use those 175-seat planes for Hawaii service.
Southwest Airlines could be coming to the Aloha State very soon.
The aircraft is less noisy and more fuel efficient than other models. Even if Hawaii flights start in 2018, they won't alter fleet or capacity plans for the year, the company said.
No specific routes have been announced, but it's a safe assumption that the airline will launch its Hawaii flights from the West Coast.