(CBS SF / AP) — Southwest Airlines 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.

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

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Southwest plans to launch flights to Hawaii from four cities in California. According to the airline’s website, Southwest intends to offer service from Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento airports. Hawaiian islands that would be served would include Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

The airline needed FAA certification of its ability to operate long, over-water flights 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.

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