Bill, I can appreciate your comments that WN could not start service to Hawai'i immediately, but if they made it a priority, it could be done this calendar year for the following reasons:
1. WN is one of Boeing's best customers and their absolute best 737 customer. To exercise a dozen or so 737-700 options, Mr. Kelly needs only phone Mr. Boeing and ask for more planes, delivered in a full ETOPS configuration, and it will be done. Yes, it would be a new subfleet but the -500 subfleet is only 25 aircraft anyways, and for the most part these planes would share commonalities with the large existing -700 fleet.
2. ETOPS proving flights could be done domestically using the existing route structure. How, you ask? WN flies to many Central and South Florida destinations where the most direct route would be a straight line across the water, but regulations limit them to 60 minutes from the closest suitable diversion airport. Therefore, they currently hug the coast when going to Central/South Florida. But they could fly the more direct route across the water in a "ETOPS" proving scenario, thereby providing initial ETOPS operating data without having to open a new route.
3. If the routes don't work out to be a business success, the planes can be recycled back into the system and the ETOPS certification could be allowed to lapse. However, with the failure of TZ and AQ, I don't think that WN would fail on these routes.
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