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Southwest Airlines Receives FAA Approval to Travel to Hawaii



Southwest Airlines is finally on its way to Hawaii.

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The airline, which will serve Hawaii from the west coast, will announce its next ticket sale for the popular holiday destination in the coming days, the group said in a statement.

The low-cost airline looks forward to regulators allowing it to visit the islands as part of its growth plan this year.

The approval came as Southwest struggled with a bitter dispute with its union of mechanics after a run-up of aircraft out of service due to mechanical problems that grounded dozens of jets. The airline and its mechanics have been negotiating a contract for more than six years and the more than 2,400 internal mechanics are seeking higher wage increases than those offered by the company.

Southwest has announced plans to start flying to Hawaii in October 2017, with an eye on ticket sales until 2018, but the partial closure of the government has delayed these plans.

The airline was to have the FAA approve its plans to fly over its Boeing 737 aircraft over great distances. Security inspectors had flown with Oakland, California, with Southwest in Honolulu in recent weeks, and had met with airline officials to review navigation, maintenance and other procedures in the Southwest.

The airline's decision to offer a service to Aloha State could reduce Hawaiian vacations cheaply. In markets where the airline offers non-stop service, single fare rates are $ 45 lower than those for cities without these connections in what has been dubbed the "Southwestern effect", according to a study from the University of Virginia.

Southwest plans to serve the islands from four California cities: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento, as well as to Honolulu, Kahului to Maui, Kona and Lihue to Kauai. The airline also intends to offer a service between the islands.

Southwest plans to increase its flights by 5% this year, half of which will come from Hawaii, the airline said last month.

This growth is at the expense of some international destinations.

"Without Hawaii, we would certainly add more international routes and increase some of our air links," Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly told analysts at a results conference in January. "So it's just a matter of prioritization, and Hawaii deserves, in my opinion, this kind of prioritization, it's such a great opportunity."

Southwest shares have changed little. The shares of Hawaiian Holdings, the parent company of its rival Hawaiian Airlines, were also stable.


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