Southwest has completed the long-range flying certification process required for its long-planned launch of Hawaii service. 

The FAA authorized Southwest to conduct Extended Operations Service (ETOPS).

"We have teams now finalizing our plans to offer service to Hawaii and we'll publicly announce our timing of inaugural flights and other service when we publish our schedule in the coming days," the carrier said in a statement. 

An FAA spokesman confirmed the Southwest ETOPS approval, noting in an email that the agency "will closely monitor their operations for the first six months, which is standard."

Southwest has said it will fly to Hawaii from Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego, but hasn't announced specific routes. Its Hawaii destinations will be Honolulu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.

In October, CEO Gary Kelly said that upon receiving ETOPS authorization, the carrier would be able to begin selling tickets within days and that flights could begin within weeks. 

Southwest first announced plans to fly to Hawaii in October 2017. The company initially hoped to commence those operations late last year, but the timeframe was pushed into this year due to the pace of the ETOPS process. The 35-day government shutdown in December and January further delayed the process since FAA inspectors weren't authorized to do non-essential work during the closure.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI