Southwest Airlines, the US carrier known for its lack of seating assignments, short routes and no-frills service late Wednesday announced it plans to start selling tickets for service to Hawaii next year, answering a question that investors and its loyal customers have asked the carrier.
The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.
Southwest has long spoken of plans to begin flights to Hawaii, making it clear that it was only a matter of when, not if, they serve the destination.
Southwest Airlines, ending years of speculation, officially announced late this afternoon that it will start selling tickets to Hawaii beginning next year and offer fares that are lower than those now in the marketplace.
" 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", Gary Kelly, chairman and CEO told Southwest employees on Wednesday.
Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson says the airline can't give a date for when flights will begin as it depends on when it receives the FAA certification.
David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, also welcomed and invited Southwest's announcement and Tom Nealon, Southwest's President, responded adding, "The unmatched combination of our People and low fares with nothing to hide will be a game-changer in the U.S.to Hawaii market". Later that year, Southwest began flying to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The airline plans to have over ten MAX aircrafts in service by the end of this year.
But Watterson refuted the notion that Southwest won't be able to offer lower fares. "Low costs come from very efficient operations".