Southwest Airlines said it plans to begin flights to Hawaii, with tickets on sale beginning next year.
The airline, which has made no secret of its plans to fly to the vacation hotspot, made it official with events in Honolulu and Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
Southwest did not announce routes or timing of the flights.
But Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has previously said the initial routes will not include Phoenix to Hawaii. Currently only American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines offer non-stop service to Hawaii from Phoenix.
Southwest has one of its busiest operations in Phoenix, with more than 170 daily non-stop flights. Phoenix travelers will have another option to Hawaii, by connecting in California, when Southwest launches service.
“Hawaii is an important place for Southwest Airlines because so many people count on us to take them everywhere they want to go reliably and affordably,” Kelly said in a statement. “We’re ready and excited to address a request we’ve heard for years.”
When he was in Phoenix for Southwest’s annual shareholders meeting in May, Kelly said for the first time that flights to Hawaii are a priority for the airline and suggested 2018 would be the year.
At an airline investor conference in September, CFO Tammy Romo didn’t spill any details but hinted something was forthcoming.
Southwest plans to use its new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which it added earlier this month, to fly between the mainland and Hawaii. It must first receive regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for extended overwater operations, a process that will begin soon.