Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly called the announcement a "day long-awaited" by customers, fans and employees.
Southwest Airlines said it plans to begin flights to Hawaii, with tickets on sale beginning next year. "We're excited because it really means that they're making an investment that Hawaii is a good place to do business", said Ige.
You heard that right.
Southwest executives also acknowledged that they are evaluating offering interisland travel - a move that would cut into Hawaiian Airlines' stranglehold in the islands and potentially hurt smaller local carriers Island Air, Mokulele Airlines and Makani Kai Air.
Watterson said the airline, which is the first operator for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, will use those 175-seat planes for Hawaii service.
Hawaiian Airlines issued this statement: "We are no stranger to competition". It must first receive regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for extended over-water operations, a process that will begin soon. "We're thrilled to bring Hawaii next year as an option to more than 115 million Customers who already fly with us, annually", said Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer.
Many more offer fights with one or more stops along the way, though. Another big key in the Hawaii announcement is the launch of Southwest's Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which offer expanded range compared to other models.
I just shared with our Employees at our Spirit Party at Universal Studios: we're going to Hawaii, baby!
Dallas-based Southwest will start selling tickets to the popular vacation destination in 2018. Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the USA transpacific market.
The airline does not specify routes, but Kelly says nonstop Hawaii service will begin from California. The rest of the work is lined up to bring the performance enhancements of the MAX to what we intend to build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands.
"The bigger the airplanes, the lower the cost per seat mile, so the airlines such as Hawaiian and United who offer the bigger planes to and from Hawaii do have the cost advantage", said Forman.