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The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - DAWN GIL­BERT­SON

South­west Air­lines has made flights to Hawaii of­fi­cial with events in Hon­olulu and Los An­ge­les. Tick­ets will go on sale next year.

South­west Air­lines said it plans to be­gin flights to Hawaii, with tick­ets on sale be­gin­ning next year.

The air­line, which has made no se­cret of its plans to fly to the va­ca­tion hotspot, made it of­fi­cial with events in Hon­olulu and Los An­ge­les on Wed­nes­day night.

South­west did not an­nounce routes or tim­ing of the flights.

But South­west CEO Gary Kelly has pre­vi­ously said the ini­tial routes will not in­clude Phoenix to Hawaii. Cur­rently only Amer­i­can Air­lines and Hawai­ian Air­lines of­fer di­rect ser­vice to Hawaii from Phoenix.

South­west has one of its busiest op­er­a­tions in Phoenix, with more than 170 daily non-stop flights. Phoenix trav­el­ers

“Hawaii is an im­por­tant place for South­west Air­lines be­cause so many peo­ple count on us to take them ev­ery­where they want to go re­li­ably and af­ford­ably,” Kelly said in a state­ment. “We’re ready and ex­cited to ad­dress a re­quest we’ve heard for years.”

When he was in Phoenix for South­west’s an­nual share­hold­ers meet­ing in May, Kelly said for the first time that flights to Hawaii are a pri­or­ity for the air­line and sug­gested 2018 would be the year.

At an air­line in­vestor con­fer­ence in Septem­ber, CFO Tammy Romo didn’t spill any de­tails but hinted some­thing was forth­com­ing.

South­west plans to use its new Boe­ing 737 Max 8 air­craft, which it added ear­lier this month, to fly be­tween the main­land and Hawaii. It must first re­ceive reg­u­la­tory ap­proval from the Fed­eral Aviation Ad­min­is­tra­tion for ex­tended over­wa­ter op­er­a­tions, a process that will be­gin soon.

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