Posted on: 13 August 2010 by Ross McSweeny
Southwest Airlines has been evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into its fleet as part of its domestic network, it has been revealed in a message sent to Southwest Employees by executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, who noted that the airline would like to reach a final decision before the end of the year.
"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,” explained 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. 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."
At this point, the decision to add the -800 has not been finalised, so any details regarding configuration, timing, and quantity of deliveries are still to be determined. The next steps in evaluating the -800 opportunity include entering into discussions with Southwest’s labour unions, assessing network flow, determining aircraft configuration, evaluating scheduling needs, completing regulatory work, and finalising other considerations.