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Southwest Eyes Hawaii Flights

12 October 2017

Southwest is adding Hawaii to its network-after years of requests from travelers and employees-with help from Boeing Co.'s upgraded 737.

Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson, who worked for Hawaiian Airlines as vice president of planning and revenue management from 2011-2013, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the company was purposely ambiguous about when flights would begin to and from Hawaii because that will depend on when ETOPS authorization is received. But earlier this month it became the first US carrier to take delivery of the new Boeing 737 Max, a longer range version of Boeing's workhorse single aisle jet.

The airline announced Wednesday that it plans to begin selling tickets to the Pacific paradise in 2018.

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When he was in Phoenix for Southwest's annual shareholders meeting in May, Kelly said for the first time that flights to Hawaii are a priority for the airline and suggested 2018 would be the year.

The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.

American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines all offer service to and from Hawaii, and analysts will be watching to see if Southwest's entry has any effect on prices. The planes are more fuel efficient and can fly longer distances than older models.

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"We anticipate fares will drop", he said.

Boeing and Southwest must wait for FAA approval for long over-the-water passenger flights for the 737 Max before it can begin service. "We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright".

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Southwest Eyes Hawaii Flights