Airline news is surf news. Fees, airfare, and options are either the bane of every trip or our saving grace. Even if you’re not a fan of Southwest Airlines you can count this one as a victory for us all, though.
The company announced this week it’s going to start servicing flights from California to Hawaii, something they’ve been trying to accomplish since October of 2017. On Wednesday, they were finally granted approval by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly out of Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, and San Diego en route to four airports in the islands: Honolulu, Maui, Kona, and Lihue. An announcement on the airline’s webpage also says they’ll be offering inter-island flights, too. USA Today published a video Friday saying the recent government shutdown actually held up the process of getting the FAA’s approval for what’s called ETOPS, or extended twin-engine operational performance standards, for the six-hour, 2,500-mile flights.
“We have teams now finalizing our plans to offer service to Hawaii, and we’ll publicly announce our timing for inaugural flights and other service when we publish our schedule in the coming days,” read a statement released by Southwest.
The net gain is that the airline says this will drive down all airfare to Hawaii. The expectation is that Southwest will launch with low introductory rates which competing airlines typically try to match, a common trend in the industry. The Dallas-based airline hadn’t announced flights as of Friday morning but in January, Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier could start California to Hawaii flights as soon as a month after getting federal approval.