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. "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. "We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years".
Southwest plans to use its new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which it added earlier this month, to fly between the mainland and Hawaii.
Southwest Airlines, the USA 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.
When he was in Phoenix for Southwest's annual shareholders meeting in May, Kelly said for the first time that flights to Hawaii are a priority for the airline and suggested 2018 would be the year. It's not yet known which airports will offer direct nonstop service to Hawaii.
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The last flight by USA bombers was 17 days earlier when four US F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1Bs flew over the peninsula. A U-2S high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft has been deployed by the U.S.
But Watterson refuted the notion that Southwest won't be able to offer lower fares. The Dallas-based airline will begin seeking federal approval to operate its planes on extended over-water routes in the coming weeks.
"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.
Looking ahead for a tropical vacation in Hawaii?
Fans of Hawaii will be hoping the carrier's entry into the new market will lower the cost of getting there as the increased competition and Southwest's low fares could force other airlines to adapt.
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