Southwest today announced that it will begin the required ETOP certification process with FAA in anticipation starting service to Hawaii.
The airline only said that it plans to start selling tickets to Hawaii in 2018 not when the actual service would start (could be in 2019).
Here’s the press release from Southwest:
DALLAS, Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) today 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). Service details are to be announced at a later date.
“A day long-awaited by our Customers, fans, and more than 55,000 of the world’s most-loved airline Employees is finally within sight—a day that will showcase your Hospitality, about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S.,” Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly told thousands of Southwest Employees at a Company gathering in Southern California. “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. We’re ready and excited to address a request we’ve heard for years.”
At the beginning of this month, Southwest became the first airline in North America to launch scheduled service utilizing Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across its existing network, bringing increased levels of efficiency and range over Next Generation Boeing 737 models. The carrier announced it will embark on a process to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for Extended Operations (ETOPS), a regulatory requirement to operate between the mainland and the Hawaiian islands.
“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 Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer.
Southwest President Tom Nealon joined the announcement via satellite from Honolulu’s famed Waikiki Beach and introduced the Governor of Hawaii, the Hon. David Ige, who shared his welcome with Southwest Employees. “The unmatched combination of our People and low fares with nothing to hide will be a game-changer in the U.S. to Hawaii market,” Nealon said in accepting the Governor’s invitation.
The Company’s aircraft and available seat miles plans for 2018 are unchanged with today’s announcement.
This is welcomed development for those living in the West Coast. More competition and capacity helps keeping the prices in check.
The ETOPS certification process is required for over water flying when there are no diversion airports readily available. It will take FAA some time to approve Southwest’s application.