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Pilot union ratifies Southwest’s 737-800 plan

Southwest Airlines has announced that its pilots, represented by the Southwest Airlines’ Pilots’ Association (SWAPA), have ratified a tentative agreement reached with the company in October to add the Boeing 737-800 to the current collective bargaining agreement.

The pilots’ current contract will also be extended by one year, becoming amendable in August 2012, and will include the potential for wage rate increases based on the company’s financial performance. SWAPA has more than 5,600 Southwest pilots in its membership.

"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," remarked 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 will now move forward its discussions with Boeing regarding substitutions of the 737-800s for the -700 positions including configuration and equipment options. Southwest currently expects to take delivery of its first 737-800 in the first quarter of 2012.

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