Scott Olson | Getty Images
A Southwest Airlines jet leaves the Midway airport in Chicago, Illinois.
Shares of Southwest Airlines rose nearly 4% Thursday after the low-cost airline announced that it had obtained federal government approval to begin its long-planned service to Hawaii, where it put a lot on growth this year.
Southwest announced for the first time its intention to serve Hawaii in October 2017 and is awaiting the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration, a process that was delayed by the 35-day partial closure of the government that forced security inspectors.
The airline was to have the FAA approve its plan to fly Boeing 737-800s over great distances, away from airports where they could make emergency landings. He announced the approval shortly before the market closed on Wednesday.
The airline will announce flight schedules and start selling tickets for Hawaii in the coming days, he added.
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 shares rose 3.8% in afternoon trading. United Airlines shares rose 0.3%, while Delta Air Lines shares were down 0.5%. American Airlines was down 0.2%. The NYSE Arca Airline Index, which tracks 15 airlines from the Americas and Europe, fell 0.4%.