The rumor mill has been flying with reports that Southwest Airlines will announce Hawaiian routes very shortly. The low-cost carrier has been adventuring into new markets including, Havana, Cuba which has reopened back up to US air travel. It wouldn’t be a far fetch for Southwest to use its shiny new 737 MAXs and ETOPS rated 737-800s to create the routes.
Flights over water need special permits if they could be traveling over one hour from any coast line, this rule was setup when airplane reliability was at an all time low. Now that aircraft are getting more reliable a special set of permits called ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) are allowing aircraft to go further away from the coast. This safety measure ensures that aircraft are no more than sixty minutes from any suitable airport to land at if one engine goes out. With ETOPS it can extend the range away from a suitable airport to 120-minutes, 180-minutes, or even 370-minutes.
With these new flights to Hawaii it’ll be interesting to see what’s offered to these flights. Southwest is known for notoriously being a nofrills airline, and who wants to sit in a plane for five to six hours only having peanuts and a drinks. This may open up Southwest to sell food in their cabins to bring in extra revenue.
If anything this might help push down prices of other carriers who fly to Hawaii. We will probably only see this price drop from the west coast of the US mainland to Hawaii and anything further away would probably stay about the same. My guess is that Southwest will choose to fly out of either Oakland or San Diego to Hawaii making the flight times about 5 hours 30 minutes to 6 hours.
Would you fly Southwest to Hawaii?