Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. David Ige made the joint announcement via satellite from Waikiki Beach behind the Royal Hawaiian to an estimated 10,000 Southwest employees at a company party at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Once approved, he said, Southwest will fly most of its routes from California to Kauai, Honolulu and the island of Hawaii.
Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said the destination is a request the company has received for years.
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!
The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in August.
Southwest Airlines Co. on October 11 shared plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii and also announced its intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS).
The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.
Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson says the airline can't give a date for when flights will begin as it depends on when it receives the FAA certification.
"We anticipate fares will drop", Watterson told the Times.
Currently, seven airlines operate in the market, but this will reduce to five before Southwest begins service. Even if Hawaii flights start in 2018, they won't alter fleet or capacity plans for the year, the company said.
As for ticket prices, Watterson said, Southwest officials have looked at how much other carriers charge for flights to Hawaii and believe the carrier can charge less.