The Boeing 737-800 Closer To Become Part Of Southwest Airlines Fleet


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The Boeing 737-800 Closer To Become Part Of Southwest Airlines Fleet

By Mike Mitchell

September 16, 2010 - The decision to bring the Boeing 737-800 into the Southwest Airlines fleet moved one step closer on Wednesday as the Executive Board of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556, representing more than 9,700 Southwest Flight Attendants unanimously approved a tentative agreement reached with the Company. The tentative agreement will now be presented to members of TWU Local 556 for a ratification vote.

"Southwest has been evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into our fleet as part of our domestic network, and an important step in our due diligence was to discuss contract reopener provisions for a new aircraft with our Flight Attendant and Pilot unions," said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.


"The TWU negotiating committee quickly grasped the potential benefits along with the added operational complexities associated with adding the -800 to our fleet. The fact that we can have these discussions over the course of a couple of meetings and quickly find a common ground that is a win for our Company and our Flight Attendants is a testament to the collaboration and long-term vision of the Flight Attendants' Union Leadership."  

If the Company pursues the -800, a joint committee would meet to work on the logistical details related to scheduling and bidding procedures that adding a fourth Flight Attendant will require.  If approved by a majority vote of the Flight Attendants, their current contract also will be extended by one year, becoming amendable May 31, 2013, and also include the potential for wage rate increases based on the Company's financial performance. Southwest Airlines current fleet consist of 175 Boeing 737-300, 125 Boeing 737-500 and 350 Boeing 737-700. 

"The decision to add the -800 still isn't final; we are still in discussion with our Pilots Union, SWAPA, and are continuing to evaluate network and configuration options. As such, any details regarding firm orders with Boeing, timing, and quantity of deliveries are still to be determined".  

Southwest Airlines is an American low-cost airline. The airline has its headquarters on the grounds of Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Southwest is the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried per year (as of 2009). Southwest maintains the third-largest passenger fleet of aircraft among all of the world's commercial airlines. As of May 3, 2009, Southwest operates approximately 3,510 flights daily.

Southwest Airlines has carried more passengers than any other U.S. airline since August 2006 for combined domestic and international passengers according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Southwest Airlines is one of the world?s most profitable airlines, posting a profit for the 37th consecutive year in January 2010.

The Boeing 737-800 is a stretched version of the 737-700, and replaces the 737-400. It also filled the gap left by the decision to discontinue the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90 following Boeing's merger with McDonnell Douglas. The -800 was launched by Hapag-Lloyd Flug (now TUIfly) in 1994 and entered service in 1998. The 737-800 seats 162 passengers in a two class layout, or 189 in one class, and competes with the A320. For many airlines in the U.S., the 737-800 replaced aging Boeing 727-200 trijets.

The 737-800 is also among the models replacing the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90 series aircraft in airline service; it burns 850 gallons of jet fuel per hour, or about 80% of the fuel needed by an MD-80 on a comparable flight, even while carrying more passengers than the latter.

According to the Airline Monitor, an industry publication, a 737-800 burns 4.88 gallons of fuel per seat per hour. Alaska Airlines replaced the MD-80 with the 737-800, saving $2,000 per flight, assuming jet fuel prices of $4 per gallon. The fuel cost of each such flight (2008 prices) on a 737-800 is about $8,500.00. For example, on 14 August 2008, American Airlines announced 26 orders for the 737-800 (20 are exercised options from previously signed contracts and six are new incremental orders) as well as accelerated deliveries.


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