Southwest Airlines proposal to add flights to Hawaii to its current schedule has been approved by the Federal Aviation administration (FAA) and will finally be on its way to the Aloha Sate.
Yes, the FAA finally gave its approval on Wednesday for Southwest to fly to the Hawaiian islands from the West Coast from select cities in California: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento and fly to Honolulu (Hawaii’s capitol) on the island of Oahu, Kahului on Maui, and Kona, and Lihue on Kauai. The airline also intends to offer services between the islands.
Southwest will announce when it will begin selling tickets to the popular vacation destination in the Pacific within a few days, the company said in its announcement.
Adding routes to Hawaii from California has been part of Southwest’s plan for expansion this year and the airline has been waiting with eager expectation for FAA regulators to give its clearance for it to do so. The company revealed its desire to begin flying to Hawaii way back in October 2017 with plans to begin selling tickets by 2018 but the partial government shutdown kept things from happening as planned.
To begin operating flights to the tropical destination, the airline needed the FAA’s approval of its plans to use its Boeing 737-800 series of jets for the over-water long distance flights. FAA Safety inspectors and regulators have been on board flights with Southwest to Honolulu from Oakland, CA over recent weeks as well as meeting with the company’s executives to go over navigation, maintenance and other procedures.
This approval comes at a time when Southwest is locked in contract negotiations with its mechanics union. For the last six years, the company has been in a bitter dispute with its approximately 2,400 in-house mechanics who are seeking higher wages than the company has proposed. Currently, Southwest has had a surge in out-of-service planes due to mechanical issues that have grounded dozens of jets.
On the positive side, traveler’s could benefit from Southwest’s services to the Aloha State with lower costs for vacations as prices for flights could be cheaper. A University of Virginia study found that in areas where Southwest has nonstop service, the average one-way fare could be as much as $45 lower than in cities without Southwest’s presence in what’s been called the “Southwest Effect.”
Southwest said last month that half of its 5 percent growth plans for 2019 will come from its expansion of flights to Hawaii.
At the present time, Southwest flies into 99 cities in 40 states and also to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.