Southwest Airlines has passed a key test in its efforts to gain FAA certification for its Hawaii flights and a second round of test flights begins Thursday.
Southwest, whose efforts to start Hawaii flights were delayed by the government shutdown, passed so-called “table top” exercises with the FAA in Dallas this week and has been approved to begin validation flights, Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said.
The next round of validation flights are different than last week’s proving flights, which focused on long-range navigation and communication equipment and procedures on the flights. These flights will focus on the full range of procedures, Parrish said. ETOPS, which stands for extended range operations for two engine airplanes, is the FAA certification airlines need for long overwater flights.
The flight is scheduled for Thursday afternoon from Oakland to Honolulu, departing at 11 a.m. local time. Southwest’s first validation flight was also from Oakland to Honolulu.
The airline plans to operate one validation flight per day for multiple days, Parrish said.
That means travelers waiting to book Southwest flights to Hawaii will have to wait into next week at a minimum.
Southwest has repeatedly said that it will not be selling tickets to Hawaii until it has received FAA approval. That didn’t stop rumors from circulating that Southwest was planning a big announcement about Hawaii on Valentine’s Day.
Southwest’s only Valentine treat for passengers: free drinks.
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