DALLAS – The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that it has authorized Southwest Airlines to launch flights between California and Hawaii, limiting the company's efforts to extend its reach to 2400 miles across the Pacific.
Dallas-based airline operations director Mike Van de Ven said Southwest will announce the ticket and flight departure schedule in the coming days.
The FAA will strengthen Southwest's surveillance for the first six months, said a spokesman for the agency, adding that additional monitoring was a common practice.
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plans to launch flights to four of the Hawaiian Islands, including Oahu, where Honolulu is located. It will serve four California cities: San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego.
General Manager Gary Kelly left open the possibility of adding flights between the islands, which would encroach on the markets dominated by Hawaiian Airlines.
Southwest needed an FAA certification to be able to perform long flights over water with jets where emergency landing options were scarce. In recent weeks, Southwest has conducted several test flights with FAA personnel onboard to monitor items such as navigation and communications.
Southwest hoped to start selling tickets for Hawaii last year, but that had already been reduced even before the partial 35-day government shutdown, which began in late December and allowed thousands of employees from the FAA to take leave.