Melanie Lieberman
Updated March 20, 2018

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly last year revealed plans to add routes to Hawaii in a meeting with shareholders. On March 16, the airline came one step closer to offering flights to Hawaii with a permit to operate at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

“We understand there is a lot of excitement regarding the service, and we are working with the airline to accommodate its logistical needs,” Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Sakahara said in a stement, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Though Southwest is currently seeking the clearance necessary from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate trans-Pacific flights, the airline is still hoping to begin selling cheap flights to Hawaii before the end of 2018.

So far, the airline has kept private any additional details about planned routes or introductory fares.

“We don’t have anything to share today,” Southwest spokesperson Brad Hawkins said, “other than to echo the building excitement of our employees and fans as Southwest approaches a long desired opportunity to serve the Hawaiian Islands.”

Excitement about Southwest’s Hawaiian ambitions has been growing since the airline took its first Boeing 737 Max 8 delivery in October.

With these longer-range and fuel-efficient aircraft, the loyal low-cost airline could make affordable round-trip fares to Hawaii (like $300 or less) a reality.

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