The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the delay in flights to the islands from San Diego, Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose that were supposed to start in 2018. “Southwest’s certification to approve operations to Hawaii is delayed during this time because of the partial shutdown,” Gregory Martin, assistant administrator for communications, wrote in an email Thursday.
Southwest announced its plans to fly to Hawaii in fall 2017. It plans to use its 737 MAX 8 aircraft on the new routes, but is still in the midst of the FAA’s extended operation application process that began in January 2018. During the certification process, inspectors determine whether an airplane can safely complete a long haul over water if an engine fails.
In a December interview before the shutdown, Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly told Bloomberg news service that the airline was “very close” to obtaining government approval. “Weeks, not months,” Kelly said. “We’re ready to roll.”
The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, prompted aviation and travel industry officials to write a letter Thursday urging President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the appropriations impasse in Washington. “This partial shutdown has already inflicted real damage to our nation’s aviation system and the impacts will only worsen over time,” the letter said.