DALLAS, March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today hosted a celebration for the arrival of the carrier's very first Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a media and Employee event at its Maintenance Hangar in Dallas. Employees, media, and invited guests had their first opportunity to see the new aircraft up close and personal, as Southwest Executives hosted a walk-through and tour of the airline's newest addition to the fleet and brand new aircraft type. The airline took delivery of the new aircraft on March 8, 2012, and the plane will undergo several regulatory and conformity procedures before it is entered into regularly scheduled service on April 11, 2012.
Southwest's Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven greeted thousands of cheering Employees, media, and invited guests who gathered to catch their first glimpse of the new aircraft.
"Not only is this is a beautiful aircraft, and one our Customers are sure to love, but it will also play an important strategic role in our future. The -800 aircraft carries 175 passengers, close to a 30 percent increase over our current fleet configuration, which will improve our unit costs per flight," said Van de Ven. "Additionally, it complements our existing fleet with opportunities for longer-haul flying and schedule flexibility by allowing additional capacity in high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted airports."
The -800 aircraft will feature Southwest's new Evolve Interior and Boeing's Sky Interior. Evolve offers a sleek cabin experience that enhances Customer comfort, improves fleet efficiency, and gives back to the environment. The Boeing Sky Interior offers a quieter, more comfortable environment for Customers with taller ceilings and more overhead bin space, improved operational security features, and ambient LED reading and ceiling lighting, which are more effective as well as energy efficient and adaptable to the mood onboard the aircraft. The aircraft also will be equipped with the airline's satellite-based internet connectivity as Southwest continues to roll out WiFi across its fleet.
Southwest is planning to take delivery of 33 737-800 aircraft in 2012, which will come equipped with full Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) configuration. ETOPS allows twin-engine aircraft to fly long distance routes and in the long-term, will provide the opportunity for adding new destinations to the airline's robust route map.
"I would like to thank our hard-working Employees for their Herculean efforts to introduce a brand new aircraft type into our fleet," Van de Ven said. "This is a proud day for me, for the People of Southwest Airlines, and for the future of our Company."
About Southwest Airlines Co. Southwest Airlines, which just completed its 39th consecutive year of profitability, continues to differentiate itself from other low-fare carriers—offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service. Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded and has acquired AirTran Airways, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Co. Southwest serves 73 cities in 38 states and remains one of the most honored airlines in the world known for its commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet. To read more about how Southwest is doing its part to be a good citizen, visit southwest.com/cares to read the Southwest Airlines One Report(TM). Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,200 flights a day and has more than 37,000 Employees.