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Southwest adds flights to Hawaii for the holidays

How about Thanksgiving or Christmas in the Aloha State?
Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
A Southwest airlines plane lands at Chicago's Midway Airport in Chicago on Sepetmber 24, 2015.

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines is bumping up the timeline for its Hawaii expansion, the carrier announced Thursday morning.

Last month, Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) said it would begin service between Sacramento and Honolulu and inter-island service between Honolulu and Lihue starting Jan. 19, 2020.

But Thursday, Southwest said those flights will now start Nov. 10, allowing the airline to sell the extra Hawaii routes during the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas travel season.

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Southwest started flying to Hawaii earlier this year after a years-long process and saw strong demand off the bat. However, the carrier was limited in how much it could expand Hawaii service because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Southwest is the largest operator of the Max with 34 in its fleet at the time of the March grounding.

This summer, Southwest decided it was done waiting for the 737 Max to be recertified. It began axing flights all over the country — including all Newark Liberty International Airport service and three routes out of Dallas Love Field — to make room for more Hawaii flights.

"We are performing, I would say, actually ahead of our expectations," Tammy Romo, the company's chief financial officer, said earlier this month about Hawaii flights.

In addition to bumping up the timeline for some routes, Southwest also said Thursday it's starting daily to fly on March 7 between Oakland and Lihue, Oakland and Kona, San Jose and Lihue, and San Jose and Kona. More new service, Sacramento to Kahului, will also start March 7.

Southwest has long said it intends to service Hawaii from four California gateways, but has yet to announce plans for San Diego. Chief Executive Gary Kelly has previously said other western airports on the mainland, like Las Vegas, could one day see Hawaii service.

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