Pack your lunch. Southwest is flying to Hawaii

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Southwest Airlines officials say they plan to begin offering flights to and from Hawaii and expect tickets to go on sale next year.

Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. David Ige made the joint announcement via satellite from Waikiki Beach behind the Royal Hawaiian to an estimated 10,000 Southwest employees at a company party at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Now we know where Southwest Airlines wants to take its brand-new Boeing planes: Hawaii. Once approved, he said, Southwest will fly most of its routes from California to Kauai, Honolulu and the island of Hawaii.

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American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines all offer service to and from Hawaii, and analysts will be watching to see if Southwest's entry has any effect on prices. "We're ready and excited to address a request we've heard for years", Kelly said.

The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in August. The initial service will be from California, said Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson, without elaborating on specific routes.

Southwest is not the only airline looking at a new longer range jet to expand service to and from Hawaii. The planes are more fuel efficient and can fly longer distances than older models.

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"We wouldn't be so bold as to say we'll start flying in October or November or July of 2018 and not go through the FAA process", Watterson said.

A new reservation system that allows for more complicated itineraries and overnight trips is also enabling Southwest to add Hawaii flights.

The Company's aircraft and available seat miles plans for 2018 are unchanged with today's announcement.

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The airline said more details of the new service, such as the date it would launch and the mainland cities where the flights would originate, would be released at a later date. Southwest is now operating nine MAX 8s and expects to have 14 in service by the end of the year.

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