(AP/NBC) – The Federal Aviation Administration has granted Southwest Airlines approval to begin flights between California and Hawaii, capping the airline’s effort to extend its reach 2,400 miles across the Pacific.
The Dallas-based airline’s chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, says Southwest will announce timing for selling tickets and beginning flights in the coming days.
The FAA will increase oversight of Southwest for the first six months, adding that the additional monitoring is standard practice.
Southwest plans to launch flights to four of the Hawaiian islands – Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. It will fly from four cities in California: San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego.
CEO Gary Kelly has left open the option of adding flights between islands, which would encroach on markets dominated by Hawaiian Airlines.
CNBC reports Southwest’s decision to offer service to the Aloha State could make Hawaiian vacations cheaper. In markets where the airline has nonstop service, average one-way fares are $45 lower than in cities without those routes in what’s been dubbed the “Southwest Effect,” a University of Virginia study found.
American, Delta, United, and Alaska airlines also offer flights to the islands.