Southwest Airlines is preparing to test its first, long-anticipated flight to Hawaii on Tuesday, although there will be no passengers on board.
The flight from Oakland, California, to Honolulu will be a “proving flight,” part of the low-cost airline's effort to secure the necessary certification from the Federal Aviation Administration -- known as “extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards,” or ETOPS -- in order to operate long, over-water flights, spokesperson Brian Parrish told FOX Business.
Once Southwest passes all phases of the ETOPS application process, it will announce further details regarding its timing for selling and operating flights, Parrish added.
Southwest, which currently services the continental U.S., in addition to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, first announced its plans to operate within Hawaii in October.
It’s unclear when customers will be able to buy tickets for operating flights, although a spokesman previously suggested passenger flights could be available by mid-March.
However, the 35-day partial government shutdown delayed the process of securing the necessary certification, according to USA Today, which first reported the news. Southwest had previously been aiming for a Feb. 1 launch date, CEO Gary Kelly said during the company’s earnings call.
Trouble could loom ahead for the Texas-based company as congressional leaders and President Trump remain at an impasse over a funding deal for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
At the end of January, Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks, but the continuing resolution passed with no border wall funding; if there’s no deal at the end of the three weeks, Trump has floated the option of declaring a national emergency and moving forward with construction. But it’s also possible there could be another shutdown.