Southwest Airlines expects to begin taking deliveries of new Boeing 737-800s in the first quarter of 2012 as a result of its pilots voting...

Southwest Airlines expects to begin taking deliveries of new Boeing 737-800s in the first quarter of 2012 as a result of its pilots voting to approve a tentative agreement reached by their union negotiators with the airline in October 2010 over adding the 737-800 to Southwest’s fleet.

The airline confirms that its pilots, represented by the Southwest Airlines’ Pilots’ Association (SWAPA), have voted to ratify a tentative agreement reached with the company in October to add the Boeing 737-800 to the union’s current collective bargaining agreement.


With this positive vote, the pilots’ current contract will also be extended by one year to become amendable in August 2012 and will include the potential for wage rate increases based on Southwest Airlines’ financial performance. SWAPA is made up of more than 5,600 Southwest pilots.

Southwest Airlines has the largest fleet of Boeing 737s of any airline in the world and is expected to remain the world's largest 737 operator for the foreseeable future

“We’ve said all along that we wouldn’t introduce a new aircraft type into the fleet without involving our flight crews as part of our deliberations,” says Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Since we began evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into our fleet, both our pilots and flight attendants quickly grasped the potential benefits along with the added operational complexities associated with this decision. All Southwest employees and customers should be excited at the opportunities adding the 737-800 to our fleet will bring.”

Southwest Airlines says it will now move forward to finalize negotiations with The Boeing Company regarding substitutions of 737-800s for existing delivery positions of 737-700s that Southwest has on order, along with discussions on configuration and equipage options. The airline reveals it expects to take delivery of its first 737-800 in the first quarter of 2012.

Two weeks ago, Southwest’s flight attendants, represented by Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556, ratified the tentative agreement reached with the company by the union’s leaders to add the Boeing 737-800 to the flight attendants’ current collective bargaining agreement.

Southwest Airlines is the United States’ largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded and now serves 69 cities in 35 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,100 flights a day and has nearly 35,000 employees systemwide.

If its proposed take-over of AirTran Airways goes ahead as planned, Southwest Airlines will have outstanding at least 175 firm orders for Boeing 737-700s, many of which could potentially be converted to allow the airline to take delivery of 737-800s instead.

To search for low fares, click here.