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Southwest Airlines to fly to Hawaii in 2018

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Southwest Airlines. PC Eric Salard

The company announced Wednesday at a company gathering and in a blog post that it will begin selling tickets to the Pacific Ocean vacation destination in 2018. Once approved, he said, Southwest will fly most of its routes from California to Kauai, Honolulu and the island of Hawaii.

"The launch of our ETOPS work begins the next chapter of Southwest Airlines".

Southwest President Tom Nealon said the airline's new service will be "a game-changer in the USA -to-Hawaii market during an announcement from Honolulu's Waikiki Beach".

"The Max will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we'll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date", says Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly.

Southwest doesn't know the exact timing of the service, and it first needs to apply for Federal Aviation Administration authorization to operate the long-distance flight.

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The new service will test whether Southwest, long known for short routes, can compete against larger carriers on flights that take more than five hours from the U.S.'s West Coast.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO told CNNMoney recently that it is looking at whether to go ahead with a new Airbus jet to start providing 13-hour direct flights to markets such as India, western Australia and even London, or whether to switch to longer range Boeing jets such as 787 Dreamliners.

"We anticipate fares will drop", he said.

Southwest Airlines could be coming to the Aloha State very soon. Southwest received nine MAX 8s on October 1 and will have 14 by the end of this year. The airliner announced the plans while also giving progress on an application with the FAA to approval flights from the mainland to the islands. The airline is expected to bring its low-fare, bags-fly-free, no-fee model to the marketplace.

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