Southwest Airlines received FAA approval Wednesday to begin flights between California and Hawaii, a move that could lower fares on the routes.
The Dallas-based airline’s chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, said it will announce the timing for selling tickets and beginning flights in coming days.
The Federal Aviation Administration will increase oversight of Southwest for the first six months, an agency spokesman said, adding that the additional monitoring is standard practice.
Southwest plans to launch flights to four of the Hawaiian islands, including Oahu. It will fly from four California cities: San Diego, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento. Southwest has said it can book travelers to Hawaii faster from those airports because slots for additional flights are available there.
The airline said it expects to soon announce other California airports for service to Hawaii — possibly including Los Angeles International Airport.
Southwest needed FAA certification of its ability to operate long over-water flights with twin-engine jets where the options for emergency landings are few. In recent weeks Southwest has operated several test flights with FAA personnel on board to monitor such things as navigation and communications.
Southwest hoped to begin selling Hawaii tickets last year, but that target had slipped even before the 35-day partial government shutdown that began in late December and resulted in the furlough of thousands of FAA employees.
Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly has left open the option of adding flights between islands, a move that would encroach on markets dominated by Hawaiian Airlines.