Southwest Airlines has announced plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii.
The carrier also announced its intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS). Service details are expected to be announced at a later date, according to a statement issued by the airline.
"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.," Gary Kelly, chairman and CEO, 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.
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.