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Since Southwest Airlines’ October 2017 announcement that it would begin flying to Hawaii, one of the ongoing questions has been just how large of a presence the carrier will have in the 50th state. More specifically, on which routes would Southwest operate. As details continue to emerge, it seems like the low-cost carrier could have more of a presence than originally thought.
Last week, the carrier filed an application with the state to secure space at Lihue Airport (LIH) in Kauai. Southwest’s application will be discussed at a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on April 13. If approved, Southwest will pay around $13,000 per month in rent, KHON2 reports.
Southwest has already locked up space at Honolulu’s main airport, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).
With the possible addition of Lihue to its Hawaii network, Southwest could be eyeing a larger operational presence. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in October that flights from the West Coast to Hawaii is the carrier’s goal, but inter-island flights are also a priority.
Although the carrier is still in the process of getting approvals from individual airports, it must also get Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPs) clearance in order to operate Hawaiian flights — an approval process that could take one year or longer.
Earlier this year, Kelly said that Southwest’s plans to begin Hawaii service are on track, and flights could launch as soon as the end of 2018. Even if Southwest doesn’t get the necessary approvals to begin service this year, Kelly is confident that it will begin selling tickets this year.
Since October’s announcement that it would begin Hawaii flights, there’s been little news as to specific routes and what fares would look like. However, we do know that Southwest’s Hawaii service will launch with its 737-800s before switching to its newest 737 MAX. In addition, the carrier has said that it will start with operations from California, a huge market for the low-cost carrier.
While we wait for more details on Southwest’s Hawaii operations, get caught up on the aircraft that it will soon be flying to Hawaii by reading this review of the 737 MAX 8.
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