Southwest Airlines Coming to Hawaiʻi
Around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, Gov. David Ige tweeted: “BREAKING: Welcoming @southwestair to the islands! We can’t wait to welcome your ʻohana to experience our people, place and culture ??”
After years of speculation, Gov. Ige’s tweet solidified that Southwest Airlines will start flying to Hawaiʻi.
The announcement was made by Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. Ige via satellite from Waikiki Beach to an estimated 10,000 Southwest employees at a company party in Los Angeles.
The airline said it will start selling tickets to Hawaiʻi beginning next year and will offer fares that are lower than those currently in the marketplace.
According to Star Advertiser, Southwest said it wasn’t ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaiʻi routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.
The company also said they could not say when the service will begin.
The Star Advertiser did state that Southwest acknowledged they are evaluating offering inter-island travel — a move that would cut into Hawaiian Airlines’ stranglehold in the islands and potentially hurt smaller local carriers Island Air, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air.
In addition, Southwest said it is considering nonstop flights to neighbor islands.
The airline said it is making the announcement now because it soon will begin a public application process to obtain the Federal Aviation Administration’s ETOPS (Extended Twin Operations) certification for operating aircraft between the mainland and Hawaii. That certification measures how far an aircraft can be safely away from land and over water if one engine gives out.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.