Southwest Airlines Close to Starting Hawai‘i Routes
While specific routes are not yet available for purchase as of Feb. 15, 2019, Southwest Airlines is still working to receive certification to begin Hawai‘i nonstop service from Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC) and Sacramento (SMF). Southwest Airlines’ Hawai‘i routes may also include the ninth island, Las Vegas, Nevada.
From these California airports, travelers will be able reach airports in Kona on Hawai‘i Island, Honolulu on O‘ahu, Kahului on Maui and Līhue on Kaua‘i. The airline also intends to provide interisland service.
On Tuesday, Feb, 5, 2019, a Southwest Boeing 737-800 landed at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye Airport (HNL). The carrier’s first ever touchdown in the islands comes as part of Southwest’s authorization process with the FAA to offer future scheduled service to Hawai‘i.
Although the process has been delayed by the recent government shutdown, Southwest is taking the next step in the certification process to launch Hawai‘i flights.
The extended operations certification process certification process (ETOPS) was delayed over a month when the government was partially shut down in late December 2018 and January 2019 because key Federal Aviation Administration employees who were working with Southwest to get certified were furloughed.
So the Dallas carrier said customers will have to wait a while longer to purchase tickets because it is still in the midst of ETOPS. Previous test flights proved Southwest’s long-range navigation and communication equipment and processes.
With this next round of validation flights, the FAA will evaluate the airline’s full range of procedures and processes.
Southwest’s first validation flight is scheduled for next week from OAK to HNL. The airline expects to operate one validation flight per day over multiple days until the FAA is satisfied. Regular flights may start in April.
According to a news report, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told employees at a company rally in Las Vegas earlier this week that the carrier is considering adding nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Hawai‘i, which could begin as early as 2020.