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New Southwest Airlines planes could be used on Hawaii route

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:47 a.m. HST, Mar 22, 2012

DALLAS >> Southwest Airlines Co. is rolling out some new, larger planes that will start hauling passengers next month and could eventually be used on a Hawaii route.

The airline introduced its first Boeing 737-800 on Wednesday during a launch party for several hundred employees in a hangar at its Dallas headquarters.

The plane holds 175 passengers, compared with 137 on the biggest jet now in Southwest’s fleet, the 737-700. The extra 38 seats should mean more revenue per flight.

“It’s going to make us more profitable from day one,” said chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven.

Eventually the new plane could allow Southwest to fly to Hawaii and the Caribbean, said CEO Gary Kelly. First, the airline needs to negotiate Hawaiian-trip pay scales for union pilots and flight attendants, he said.

“As long as you have the demand for 175 customers, it’s a really good business decision,” Kelly said.

If it passes operating tests, the plane will join the fleet on April 11. Southwest plans to use it and other 737-800s mostly on long-haul flights out of Baltimore, Chicago and Florida airports, then in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

It could also be used at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Washington’s Reagan National Airport, where Southwest has limited takeoff and landing slots, Van de Ven said.

The new plane has higher ceilings and more overhead bin space than other Southwest planes and will be equipped for wireless Internet access.

Southwest plans to get 33 of the new planes this year, and 41 next year, while retiring a similar number of older jets. Southwest has more than 550 planes, not counting its AirTran Airways subsidiary.

Extra seating is a recurring theme at Southwest, which needs more revenue to offset high jet fuel costs. The airline is installing new, thinner seats on its 369 Boeing 737-700s, making room for another row with six seats.

The 737-800 is Southwest’s first new model since it added the 737-700 in 1997. The bigger plane means Southwest flights will require an additional flight attendant, but executives said that will be offset by more revenue and lower fuel and maintenance costs than with older jets.

Southwest has the world’s largest all-Boeing fleet.

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1local wrote:
More flight options / availability to Hawaii. Competition is needed - especially to the Neighbor Islands. A 'Right To Work' non-union airline would provide competition to the existing airline industry...
on March 22,2012 | 09:34AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Absolutely. Oh, and my vote for John Wayne please.
on March 22,2012 | 12:16PM
hawaiianmickey wrote:
Southwest is union.
on March 22,2012 | 06:42PM
cojef wrote:
Bring them on from John Wayne to Honolulu. Live in Orange County and miss Aloha very much. Never flew Hawaiian as it was a hassle at LAX. Further our community offered Taxi vouchers for the elderly and it was a cheap ride to the airport. Better hurry, cuz ain't got too much time left on this ball of mud.
on March 22,2012 | 09:37AM
frings wrote:
Time for some competition in the Hawaii market. Not that I'm knocking Hawaiian Airlines because I've been a loyal customer for years. But it seems that when Southwest moves into a market it tends to get all the players on their toes and that can only help.
on March 22,2012 | 09:52AM
kennysmith wrote:
is southwest the low cost airline any way?, as for right now that person don't want to go that route.
on March 22,2012 | 10:17AM
mgyoung27 wrote:
Always thought that it was wierd that a company calling itself 'Southwest Airlines' never flew to the state that was the furthest South and the furthest West.... this will be good!
on March 22,2012 | 10:26AM
svkamahoi wrote:
Aloha and welcome, Southwest - please hurry!!! And yes, either John Wayne or Ontario would be far superior to LAX.
on March 22,2012 | 10:29AM
Sully77 wrote:
about TIME.....Bring your bags folks... NO CHARGE...for extra bags !!! Mahalo SOUTHWEST!!! WELCOME to the Hawaiian Islands!! Hope it will all work-out for the benefit of all...especially the inter-island routes, or ALL routes for that matter. MAHALO!!
on March 22,2012 | 10:33AM
iwanaknow wrote:
The Unions are going to cry foul
on March 22,2012 | 10:57AM
Bean808 wrote:
Let them. As much as people love going to Las Vegas for example fare might be more competitive. Just look at Hawaiian's fares any way you may look at it they are a monopoly. We may not be paying dirt cheep fare but at least there will be some competition. Aren't they the ones who say bags fly for free! It may not hurt the Boyds operation to Las Vegas or should I say the patronization of the people from Hawaii but there will be some competition to the Las Vegas or for that matter to the mainland.
on March 22,2012 | 11:43AM
Ripoff wrote:
HA needs competition. This is good
on March 22,2012 | 01:19PM
hawaiianmickey wrote:
It's going to hurt Alaska Airlines more because they fly similar planes. Hawaiian flies wide body planes compared to Alaska and Southwest. Very cramped for a long haul flight. 3 seats on each side of the aircraft and really nowhere to go to stretch out. An when the flight attendants are in the aisle there is nowhere to go. No entertainment on the plane for Southwest. Plus Southwest no longer has cheap fares like before. Probably will have to charge for bags going to Hawaii as the price of fuel goes up. More bags adds weight which in turn causes more fuel to be used.
on March 22,2012 | 06:41PM
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