Last month, there was rampant speculation about a Southwest announcement of new nonstop routes to Hawaii. Several events came and went with no announcement. The good news is that Southwest is finally saying Aloha to Hawaii with new routes set to go on sale in 2018, but they may not actually begin until 2019.
The part I really love is they made the announcement by replying to an almost 10-year-old tweet on Twitter. That's classy Southwest.
Then of course they followed up with a formal announcement.
We don't yet know which airports will fly the routes but it's almost certain they will be from the west coast to include Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, or Portland.
Southwest plans to utilize the new Boeing 737 MAX for the Hawaii routes, but it sounds like initially they will use legacy AirTran 737-800's which are equipped for the overwater journey.
The 737 MAX is hot off the production line as Southwest just received their first 737 Max delivery on August 31st (of 14 in 2017). The 737 MAX offers better fuel efficiency and extended range compared to older 737 models.
- Announcement and FAA approval of new routes
- Outfitting aircraft with Extended Operations equipment (ETOPS)
- Special ETOPS training for flight crews and FAA approval for ETOPS flights
I spoke with a Southwest pilot last week, and he stated that many pilots already have the training required for the extended flights, and many older AirTran acquired 737's already have the necessary equipment installed (from prior Caribbean flights). It seems like the all the pieces are coming together and hopefully these routes will launch in 2018. Stay tuned!
H/T: Dallas News