Southwest Airlines ready to resume Hawaii flight expansion

HONOLULU (AP) — Southwest Airlines is preparing to resume expansion of its service to Hawaii, officials said.

The carrier’s expansion plans were delayed due to a lack of available aircraft, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Southwest expects to “provide details of the next phases of Hawaii flying in the coming weeks and months, as we put new flights out for sale,” said Gary C. Kelly, board chairman and chief executive officer.

The aircraft limitation happened because of the Federal Aviation Administration order in March that grounded Boeing 737 Max planes after deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, officials said.

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All 34 of Southwest’s Max aircraft from its fleet of 753 planes were grounded during the second quarter of 2019. Southwest does not yet fly Max planes in Hawaii, but the carrier had to stretch its fleet of model 737-800 aircraft to cover the Max planes removed from its schedule through Jan. 5, officials said.

Southwest had about 20,000 flight cancellations in the second quarter, while the normal rate is about 3,000.

“Despite challenges caused by the Max groundings, our network is performing well,” Kelly said Thursday.

Dallas-based Southwest began Hawaii service in March and expects to offer flights to Hawaii from Sacramento and San Diego.

Southwest launched its interisland service in March with flights between Honolulu and Kahului. The company has 16 interisland flights and plans to offer service to Lihue on Kauai and Hilo on Hawaii island.

Southwest also added 2,100 daily trans-Pacific air seats through its 12 daily trans-Pacific flights to and from Hawaii, officials said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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