Southwest Just Took Delivery of Its Last-Ever Boeing 737 Next Gen

Oct 2, 2018

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It’s the end of an era for Southwest Airlines.

The low-cost carrier has officially closed out its orders on Boeing 737 Next Generation planes, which it has ordered since 1993.

Southwest’s all-Boeing 737 fleet received its last 737 Next Generation aircraft on Sunday and will be ordering only the new 737 MAX model of the narrow-body planes from here on out. (Next Generation is the over-arching name given to the -600, -700, -800 and -900 series of the 737.)

“We’ll continue to fly these airplanes for many, many years to come,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told airline employees on Monday, noting that the last NG order nonetheless marks “the end of an era for this workhorse airplane.’’

Southwest has already been flying 16 of the MAX 8 aircraft since August 2017. TPG‘s Emily McNutt flew Southwest’s 737 MAX 8 from Dallas to Houston in October 2017 and enjoyed the “extremely quiet cabin, comfortable mood lighting and new boarding music,” but didn’t like the narrower armrests. Overall, she found the MAX 8 to be a “comfortable and welcome product” for the budget airline.

The Dallas-based airline, which operates the largest fleet of 737s in the world, was a launch customer for the Next Generation 737 two and a half decades ago when it ordered 63 of the narrow-body aircraft from Boeing. Since the first 737NG was delivered to Southwest in 1997, the airline has grown its fleet to 512 of the -700 and 202 of the -800 aircraft.

Southwest has a current order of 237 of the MAX 8s and 30 of the MAX 7s with Boeing. The airline is expecting to receive its firs MAX 7 sometime in 2019. And the MAX aircraft will give Southwest the ability to go further than previous planes, and the more fuel efficient narrow-body could even possibly mean the airline saves on fuel costs, meaning potential lower fares for customers. The aircraft will also eventually be used on its Hawaii routes.

The single-aisle MAX aircraft is now Boeing’s largest source of profit.

H/T: Bloomberg

Featured image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.

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