Southwest aims to launch Hawaii service next year

Southwest Airlines. PC Eric Salard

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the Dallas-based airline made the announcement on Tuesday, and its officials say it will soon begin the public application process to obtain the Federal Aviation Administration certification that allows aircraft to operate to and from the mainland and Hawaii. ETOPS stands for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards. Southwest is the largest carrier at BWI Marshall Airport, and uses BWI as an operating base.

A study published by the business school at the University of Virginia earlier this year found that of 109 markets in which Southwest started service between 2012 and 2015, fares fell by an average of 15%, with almost a third of the routes enjoying a drop of more than 20%.

Southwest officials made the announcement to a gathering of its employees in southern California.

Southwest is justly famous for the Southwest Effect-a reduction in airfares and an increase in travel demand in any market that Southwest enters.


The company hasn't yet released plans for the flights or how Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plays into them; however, a quick look at flight plans shows only one airline, Delta, offering direct non-stop flights between Atlanta and the Aloha State.

"We haven't announced routes or destinations but California will play a key role to access the islands", said spokesman Dan Landson in an email. "This has been a long time coming so there's no particular reason for us to rush it". The planes are more fuel efficient and can fly longer distances than older models. And increasingly, Southwest's recent moves have shown that it's not always a low fare leader.

If Hawaii is anything like other markets Southwest has disrupted over the past decades, industry fares could fall.

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