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Southwest is reportedly one step closer to launching its long-awaited Hawaii service. According to an internal memo dated Dec. 21, 2018, and obtained by the Chicago Business Journal, the airline has received approval for one of its required authorizations.

Southwest’s Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said in the memo: “I am proud to report that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Southwest earlier today that the Extended Operations (ETOPS) procedures and manuals we submitted for review have been approved. This is a very important step in our journey to ETOPS authorization.”

However, just because it’s gotten approval for the ETOPS procedures and manuals that were submitted, Southwest still has to wait for additional approvals before launching Hawaii service. First, it has to prove its ETOPS procedures to the FAA in a formal tabletop exercise, before operating validation flights with FAA officials on board. Once complete, the airline will be able to launch its service from the US mainland to Hawaii.

“Once we complete these next steps to the satisfaction of the FAA, we will receive our ETOPS authorization and can announce the details of our planned service to Hawaii,” Van de Ven said in the memo.

According to the Chicago Business Times, sources say that the earliest that service could begin is March or April.

Since first announcing plans to launch service to Hawaii in October 2017, the carrier long maintained that it would sell tickets in 2018. However, with 2018 come and gone, it has turned its sights to 2019.

Requests for comment about a new timeline for the Hawaii launch went unanswered.

When it goes get final approval, Southwest’s Hawaii service will launch with its 737-800s before switching to its newest 737 MAX. 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.

Featured image by Max Prosperi.

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