Southwest Confirms It Is Taking 20 Boeing 737-800s from March 2012

by Staff on December 15, 2010

Southwest Airlines will receive 20 new Boeing 737-800s in 2012, with delivery of the first scheduled for March 2012.

Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ chairman, president, and CEO confirmed on December 15 in a speech at the Wings Club in New York City that the carrier has agreed with Boeing to substitute 737-800s for 20 of  the 737-700s it has on order for delivery in 2012.

Kelly also said Southwest expects its eventual fleet of 737-800s to grow to 70 or more aircraft, all of which would be taken in place of 737-700s that it now has on order.

Southwest holds firm orders, options and purchase rights for approximately 250 737-700s, not including the firm orders for 62 737-700s that AirTran Airways holds and which Southwest Airlines would inherit if its proposed takeover of AirTran in 2011 goes ahead as planned.

Kelly says that, with both Southwest’s pilots’ and flight attendants’ unions ratifying their contracts to add the 737-800 to their current collective-bargaining agreements, Southwest Airlines is continuing to finalize discussions with the Boeing Company regarding substitutions of the 737-800s for the 737-700 positions and regarding configuration and equipage options.

In addition to Southwest Airlines' other environmental initiatives and its testing of a specially outfitted Boeing 737-700 'green plane', all of the airline's 737s are being fitted with blended winglets. These reduce drag on the aircraft while it is flying and thus cut fuel burn and CO2 emissions by as much as 7 per cent during a flight

“The -800 represents many exciting opportunities for our Employees and our Customers,” says Kelly. “We are looking to the future and the -800 sets the stage to bring more destinations into the realm of possibilities for Southwest, to operate a more economical aircraft, and to offer better scheduling flexibility in high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted markets.”

Southwest’s plan is to take delivery of the 20 Boeing 737-800s in full Extended-range, Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) configuration. This would enable Southwest Airlines to operate the 737-800s on routes between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, after the carrier performed the necessary operational certification work to allow the FAA to certificate Southwest for ETOPS flying.

The configuration that Southwest is currently planning for its 737-800s also includes fitting them with the new 737 Boeing Sky Interior, which offers a quieter cabin, improved operational-security features and LED reading lights and ceiling-lighting.

Southwest Airlines is the United States’ largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded and now serves 69 cities in 35 states.

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