Southwest Airlines is due to conduct its maiden flight from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, this week as part of its ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certification. Partly delayed by the government shutdown, Southwest will complete its ETOPS certification flights over the next few weeks with the goal of launching California-to-Hawaii revenue flights by mid-March.
Southwest announced its intent to serve Hawaii last year.
The low-cost carrier, which started flying internationally with its service to the Caribbean in 2014, has not needed ETOPS certification until now. Southwest also flies to Mexico and Costa Rica, but did not need ETOPS approval to complete those routes.
Southwest won’t be the only carrier using the venerable 737 to hop the Pacific. Alaska Airlines currently runs the 737-800 from West Coast airports to Honolulu.