Mike Van de Ven, executive vice president & chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines, sent a message to the carrier's employees saying that Southwest...

Southwest Airlines is considering adding Boeing 737-800s to its fleet, the airline has revealed.

Mike Van de Ven, executive vice president & chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines, sent a message to the carrier’s employees saying that Southwest has been evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into its fleet as part of its domestic network. Van de Ven says Southwest would like to reach a final decision on adding the 737-800 before the end of the year.


At present the largest version of the Boeing 737 family that Southwest operates is the 737-700. Southwest also operates sizable numbers of the older 737-300 (which is of similar size to the 737-700) and also has some smaller 737-500s in its fleet.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 takes off at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, one of the airline's major destinations

“While the aircraft could introduce additional complexities to our operation, we believe our existing network could be significantly enhanced by converting some of our future 737-700 deliveries to 737-800s,” writes Van de Ven.  “Introducing the -800, which has more seating capacity than the -700, would be a complementary fit to our current fleet by supplementing opportunities for longer-haul flying, while also potentially improving our unit costs.”

Continues Van de Ven: “The -800 also can give Southwest scheduling flexibility by allowing for additional capacity in high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted markets. We are proud to continue our strong history of being the largest 737 operator in the world and excited for the potential opportunities that could come with introducing the -800 into our fleet.”

Southwest Airlines says it has not yet finalized any decision on adding the 737-800 to its fleet, so any details regarding aircraft configuration, timing, and quantity of deliveries are still to be determined.

The airline says the next steps in evaluating the 737-800 opportunity include entering into discussions with its labor unions, assessing network flow, determining aircraft configuration, evaluating scheduling needs, completing regulatory work and finalizing other considerations.