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Southwest plans Hawaii service; says no nonstops from Islip

Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest discount airline, says

Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest discount airline, says it will begin service to Hawaii. Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

HONOLULU — Southwest Airlines is planning to offer flights between Hawaii and the mainland and expects tickets to go on sale next year, airline officials said.

Asked if the move would affect Southwest’s service from Long Island MacArthur Airport, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the aircraft model to be used would preclude nonstops from Islip.

“It is too early for us to share service details, but you could extrapolate from the range of the 737 MAX that Hawaii would not be a nonstop option from the East (or Central) time zones on Southwest,” he said.

The Dallas-based airline made the announcement Wednesday in a joint address by Southwest President Tom Nealon and Hawaii Gov. David Ige to thousands of employees at a company party, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The airline will soon begin the public application process to obtain the Federal Aviation Administration certification that allows aircraft to operate between the mainland and Hawaii.

Although the airline has not indicated what routes it will offer to the state, airline officials said they are evaluating the possibility of offering flights between the islands as well.

Southwest chief revenue officer Andrew Watterson said the airline can’t give a date for when its planes will start flying over the Pacific Ocean as it depends on when it receives the FAA certification.

“We know we’ll get through the FAA process in time to sell tickets next year, but until the FAA gives us better indications of the authorization timeline, we’re not going to speculate and put a date out there,” Watterson said. “This has been a long time coming so there’s no particular reason for us to rush it.”

— Staff and wire reports

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