Southwest Airlines put on its best floral shirt to announce that the (sometimes) lower-cost carrier intends to start offering service to Hawaii. But when those flights to the far-flung island state will begin remains a question.
In its big announcement of the Hawaii news, Southwest would only say that it intends to start selling tickets for travel to Hawaii at some point in 2018.
First, Southwest needs to get what’s known as Extended Range (or ETOPS) approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. ETOPS is needed when you intend to fly an aircraft over an area — like, say, a vast ocean — where there aren’t any places to land safely in an emergency. While Southwest currently offers flights to as far away as Costa Rica, Hawaii would be the airline’s first transoceanic route.
“We wouldn’t be so bold as to say we’ll start flying in October or November or July of 2018 and not go through the FAA process,” Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We know we’ll get through the FAA process in time to sell tickets next year, but until the FAA gives us better indications of the authorization timeline, we’re not going to speculate and put a date out there.”