March 06, 2019

Southwest Airlines Wins U.S. Approval for Hawaii Service

Southwest Airlines Co said on Wednesday it won approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to begin flying to Hawaii from California, clearing the way for the low-cost carrier to move forward with a key part of its 2019 growth plan.

Dallas-based Southwest, one of the largest U.S. domestic airlines, said it would publicly announce the timing for selling tickets and inaugurating flights to the Hawaiian Islands in the coming days.

Southwest will fly its Boeing 737 fleet from Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, and plans to service Honolulu on Oahu, Kahului on Maui, Kona on Island of Hawaii, and Lihue on Kauai. The company also plans to fly between the Hawaiian Islands.

It will compete with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines on the new routes, though analysts said it remained to be seen whether Southwest's entrance would drive down other carriers' fares.

Southwest, which first unveiled plans for the new service in 2017, had hoped to begin selling tickets in January. But those plans were delayed due to a 35-day partial U.S. government shutdown, which halted a lengthy federal certification process for jets that fly over water for an extended period.

Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. From Reporting by Tracy Rucinski, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Dan Grebler.

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