DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Southwest Airlines is getting ready for takeoff.

The Dallas-based airline says it has gained government approval to begin flights between California and Hawaii, capping a long effort that was delayed by the government shutdown.

The airline’s chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, told employees Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration granted the authorization.

Van de Ven says Southwest will announce timing for selling tickets and beginning flights in the coming days.

Southwest plans to launch flights to four of the Hawaiian islands, including Oahu, where Honolulu is located. It will fly from four cities in California: San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego.

CEO Gary Kelly has left open the option of adding flights between islands, which would encroach on markets dominated by Hawaiian Airlines.

Southwest needed FAA certification of its ability to operate long, over-water flights with twin-engine jets where the options for emergency landings are few. In recent weeks Southwest has operated several test flights with FAA personnel on board to monitor such things as navigation and communications.

Southwest hoped to begin selling Hawaii tickets last year, but that had slipped even before the 35-day partial government shutdown, which began in late December and resulted in the furlough of thousands of FAA employees.

Southwest completed a test flight on February 5 from Oakland, California, to Honolulu.

A Southwest Airlines passenger jet makes a final approach. (credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

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