At the beginning of this month, Southwest became the first airline in North America to launch scheduled service utilizing Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across its existing network, bringing increased levels of efficiency and range over Next Generation Boeing 737 models. On Wednesday, Chairman and CEO of the airline, Gary Kelly announced plans for the company to submit an application with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin service to the state next year.
American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines all offer service to and from Hawaii, and analysts will be watching to see if Southwest's entry has any effect on prices. Inter-island flights are also a possibility.
The Dallas airline began to fly outside the U.S.in 2014 when it took over flights to the Caribbean from its subsidiary AirTrans. It must first receive regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for extended over-water operations, a process that will begin soon.
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.
"We anticipate fares will drop", said Andrew Watterson, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the airline. And with a major carrier adding flights to Hawaii in 2018, this may be a good time to start. "For us, it's more important to do it properly than doing it a certain date".
U.S. low-priced giant Southwest Airlines will begin sales for Hawaii flights in 2018, and will serve the popular leisure destination from California.
Southwest Airlines is now the third-busiest carrier in the US, and a study by the University of Virginia this year found that Southwest still has the power to force its rivals to lower fares to stay competitive.
"Our seat-mile costs are below (other airlines serving Hawaii) and we will offer lower fares than now are in the marketplace".
The Company's aircraft and available seat miles plans for 2018 are unchanged with today's announcement. "You can count on that", he said. "Low costs come from very efficient operations".
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