Southwest Test Flight To Hawaii Is Happening Today

Southwest Test Flight To Hawaii

Courtesy: Houston Hobby // Stephen M. Keller, 2018

Southwest Test Flight To Hawaii Is Happening Today

Southwest Airlines told USA Today in a statement that it will be performing a test flight today from Oakland, California to Hawaii.  The flight will have no passengers on board because the airline is running a test flight to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ETOPS certification.

Extended Ranger Operation with Two-Engine Airplanes, referred to as ETOPS, is a certification necessary for Southwest Airlines to fly their two-engine Boeing 737s for an extended period of time over open water.

The certification is required when an airline intends “a route that contains a point farther than one hour flying time at the normal one-engine inoperative cruise speed (in still air) from an adequate airport.”

The test flight means the airline is moving closer to flying to Hawaii.  Southwest hoped to start the flights to Hawaii in January, but the government shutdown that started in December delayed the FAA’s certification process.  That has set Southwest back from starting the Hawaii flights sooner.  The airline says it hopes that flights will start to Hawaii at the end of March or April.  The airline also said it lost $10-15 million in revenue in January due to the shutdown.

Southwest Airlines is the rare exception to U.S. airlines that does not currently have the ETOPS certification.  The airline flies to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Costa Rica, but none of those routes require the ETOPS certification.  This move to open their market to Hawaii puts them in a spot where they will get the certification.  This of course puts Southwest in a position where it could expand beyond even the Hawaii market in the future.

The airline announced in April 2018 that it had intentions to begin service to Hawaii.  The airline announced at the time it plans service from Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento, California.  The service is planned to fly from those California destinations to Honolulu, Kahului, Kona, and Lihue.

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