Southwest has leaked that they are very close to launching Hawaiian flights, that only one thing remains to be attained from the FAA.
Their ETOPS certification.
Southwest’s Hawaiian dream so far
Southwest initially proposed routes to Hawaii way back in October 2017. Southwest will operate to Hawaii from Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose, and will serve Honolulu, Lihue, Kona, and Kahului. They also want to run an inter-island service, which would be highly welcomed considering how much it costs to fly between the islands currently.
Southwest will also be improving their soft product on board, such as including complimentary movies.
But what most of us don’t realize that it actually takes airlines many months to put together a new route, particularly if it crosses into the Pacific.
“It’s a massive undertaking for us. It usually takes about 12- to 18-months, and we are at about a year” – Greg Wells, Southwest executive vice-president of daily operations
Southwest has only been hard at work slightly over a year, and whilst their goal is to fast-track ticket sales before Christmas, they are quickly running out of time.
The holdup? Getting the ETOPS certification.
What is ETOPS?
ETOPS stands for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards. Essentially, it is a certification allowing planes to fly more than 60-minutes away from the nearest airport. Because of routes over the Pacific fly for up to 4-5 hours without land nearby, any route needs to be given ETOPS certification.
In the past, only planes with four engines were allowed to fly across the Pacific. This is one of the reasons why the Airbus A340 exists!
However, getting ETOPS certification is a notoriously long process. Allegiant Air wanted to fly to Hawaii from Las Vegas back in 2011 but was unable to start selling tickets until mid-2012. That being said, as soon as they got the ETOPS certification, tickets went on sale.
Southwest has applied to use their Boeing 737-800 aircraft for the route, which should have more than enough range to make the journey. For example, San Jose to Honolulu International is 2,417 miles / 3,889 kilometers / 2,100 nautical miles. A Boeing 737-800 can fly a maximum range of 5,765 km / 3,582 miles / 3,112 nautical miles, and thus can easily make the trip with room to spare. The flight will take just over five and a half hours.
We do not have an understanding yet of the Southwest frequency, days of flights or the cost. But we expect them to be priced very competitively.
What is Southwest’s current status?
Southwest believes they are very close to getting ETOPS certification, that “We are close, the good news is that all the planning has gone superbly” claimed Greg Wells.
If you are looking for the best credit card to get you to Hawaii on Southwest, you can check out our ultimate guide here.
Only time will tell if they get it in time for Christmas or if the tickets come available in January 2019.
Will you be going to Hawaii on Southwest?