Southwest Airlines announces intent for flights to Hawaii

Southwest Airlines makes it official: Hawaii service on the way

On Wednesday night, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced plans to launch service to Hawaii. By offering lower fares itself, Southwest Airlines has forced its competitors to lower theirs, according to a 2017 study, which confirmed the continuation of a trend marked by a federal study from the 1990s.

The airline anticipates beginning flights to the Pacific islands next year.

The carrier started to take delivery this summer of the Boeing 737 Max 8, a new jet with quieter engines and better fuel efficiency.

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. "We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years", Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly told Southwest employees at a company gathering in Southern California.

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Mike Van de Ven, Southwest chief operating officer, said the new Hawaii service "begins the next chapter of Southwest Airlines".

Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. David Ige joined the announcement via satellite from Waikiki.

Airline experts said despite the increased competition between Hawaii and the mainland that fares are not expected to change much because it costs more per mile to operate Southwest's aircraft than the larger planes operated by Hawaiian Airlines and other carriers.

For now, no destinations have been confirmed, but the airline has said that it intends to fly to Honolulu and Kauai, mainly from California.

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