Southwest Airlines is planning to offer flights between Hawaii and the mainland and expects tickets to go on sale next year, airline officials said. It is also not yet known if other airports on the islands beyond Honolulu International Airport will have the Southwest service.
The airline anticipates beginning flights to the Pacific islands next year.
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.
"Hawaii is an important place for Southwest Airlines because so many people count on us to take them everywhere they want to go reliably and affordably".
"We anticipate fares will drop", said Andrew Watterson, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the airline.
Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. David Ige made the joint announcement via satellite from Waikiki Beach behind the Royal Hawaiian to an estimated 10,000 Southwest employees at a company party at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Southwest received nine MAX 8s on October 1 and will have 14 by the end of this year.
"We anticipate fares will drop", he said.
The company's aircraft and available seat miles plans for next year did not change with the announcement.
Southwest will become the sixth United States airline serving Hawaii from the contiguous USA, FlightGlobal schedules data show. "One hundred and seventy-five seats in a 737-800 is a different scale of economy and we can keep costs low by higher efficiencies".