Travelers have wanted Southwest to offer flights to Hawaii for years, and Kelly said it's one of the top questions from employees.
Southwest Airlines said it plans to begin flights to Hawaii, with tickets on sale beginning next year.
Now we know where Southwest Airlines wants to take its brand-new Boeing planes: Hawaii.
In a Wednesday statement about the new service Southwest said it was announcing its "intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization".
American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines all offer service to and from Hawaii, and analysts will be watching to see if Southwest's entry has any effect on prices.
The Dallas-based carrier, known for its "bags fly free" and no-fee policies, said it wasn't ready yet to identify the mainland-Hawaii routes it will fly, but said its large presence in California is an indication that some of the service will come from there.
Fans of Hawaii will be hoping the carrier's entry into the new market will lower the cost of getting there as the increased competition and Southwest's low fares could force other airlines to adapt. The latest version of the planemaker's best-selling jet, the 737 Max, can fly farther and is more fuel efficient than older models.
Southwest has long spoken of plans to begin flights to Hawaii, making it clear that it was only a matter of when, not if, they serve the destination.
"We wouldn't be so bold as to say we'll start flying in October or November or July of 2018 and not go through the FAA process", Watterson said. Even if Hawaii flights start in 2018, they won't alter fleet or capacity plans for the year, the company said. "We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright".