Southwest Airlines carries more total passengers through their system than any other US airline. They have a massive fleet of nearly 700 Boeing 737s. Yet somehow up until now they haven’t flown to Hawaii, which has surprised a lot of people, including me. That’s finally changing.
Per a message posted by Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, Southwest will begin selling tickets for flights between California and Hawaii in 2018. Here’s the full message from Southwest’s CEO:
I just shared with our Employees at our Spirit Party at Universal Studios: we’re going to Hawaii, baby! 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!
We intend to begin selling tickets in 2018, and while we’re not quite ready to offer our Customers specific schedule or market information, tonight’s announcement is going to be big news within the industry. Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the U.S. transpacific market.
You may have heard us purposefully changing our language ahead of tonight’s announcement to say it’s a matter of when, and not if we serve Hawaii. Why now? We need to take our Extended Operations (ETOPS) work to the next level and gain FAA certification of ETOPS-equipped aircraft in our fleet and establish required operational processes to offer our Customers nonstop service they expect from California to one of the world’s top leisure destinations. The MAX will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we’ll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date. The rest of the work is lined up to bring the performance enhancements of the MAX to what we intend to build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands.
Because this will be big news for the media and our Investors who have also waited for this day, we’ve also posted video of the Employee announcement on swamedia.com, where you’ll also be able to read our news release.
Mahalo to you all as we work to bring America’s Most Loved airline to the shores of Hawaii–and I find it fitting that’s about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S!
You heard that right. We’re thrilled to share our intention to bring our world-famous hospitality and value to the Hawaiian Islands! pic.twitter.com/NoVNXlsSH7
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 12, 2017
As you can see, the main hurdle now is Southwest having to get their planes ETOPS certified. We’re still not that far along in learning the details of Southwest’s new service, though we’re now another step closer to seeing Southwest fly to Hawaii.
So Southwest has gone from saying they’re considering flights to Hawaii, to saying it’s a matter of “when” and not “if,” to saying that it’s definitely happening, but not yet announcing specific routes or dates.
Congrats to Southwest on this development! I’ll be very curious to see just how many flights to Hawaii they operate.