Southwest Airlines hosted a celebration event for media and employees on March 21 at its maintenance hangar at Dallas Love Field to mark the arrival of the carrier’s first Boeing 737-800.
The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 737-800 on March 8 and the aircraft will undergo several regulatory and conformity procedures before it enters scheduled service on April 11.
“Not only is this is a beautiful aircraft, and one our customers are sure to love, but it will also play an important strategic role in our future,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“The -800 aircraft carries 175 passengers, close to a 30 per cent increase over our current fleet configuration, which will improve our unit costs per flight,” said Van de Ven. “Additionally, it complements our existing fleet with opportunities for longer-haul flying and schedule flexibility by allowing additional capacity in high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted airports.”
The 737-800 will feature Southwest’s new Evolve Interior and Boeing’s Sky Interior. Evolve is aimed at enhancing customer comfort, but also improves fleet efficiency and gives back to the environment.
Meanwhile, the Boeing Sky Interior offers taller ceilings and more overhead bin space, improved operational security features, and ambient LED reading and ceiling lighting, which are more effective as well as energy-efficient and adaptable to the time of day and/or the mood onboard the aircraft.
The 737-800 also will be equipped with Southwest Airlines’ satellite-based internet connectivity as the carrier continues to roll out in-flight Wi-Fi across its fleet.
Southwest Airlines is planning to take delivery of 33 Boeing 737-800s in 2012. They will come fully equipped in Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) configuration.
ETOPS allows twin-engine aircraft to fly long distance routes and in the long-term will provide Southwest the opportunity for adding new destinations – such as airports in Hawaii – to the airline’s route network.
Southwest Airlines, which has completed its 39th consecutive year of profitability, serves 73 cities in 38 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,200 flights a day and has more than 37,000 employees.