HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The chances of Southwest Airlines entering the Hawaii market got higher Friday as the carrier's flight attendants approved a contract agreement that would allow flights to the islands. However, the airline says there are no immediate plans to add Hawaii to its routes.
According to Southwest spokesman Paul Flaningan, the approval is the last labor hurdle for the airline. The pilots union approved a similar agreement last June.
Southwest is based in Dallas, Texas, and flies 3,400 flights in the 48 contiguous states. "We currently serve about 75 cities in the continental United states, and we have a very vast network, and of course our customers definitely see Hawaii as an appealing route for us," said Flaningan.
Southwest only flies Boeing 737s, and recently got approval for overwater flights for its 737-800 model, Flaningan said.
Flaningan added that the airline is also looking at adding international routes in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America, and has recently hired a vendor to establish an international reservations system that would likely include Hawaii routes. He said the earliest that the system would be ready would be 2014.
The state Department of Transportation declined comment on the news until it can be discussed with the DOT's airports division.