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Since its inception Southwest Airlines has almost exclusively operated Boeing 737 aircraft (except for a brief period when it leased and flew some Boeing 727-200 aircraft). Southwest is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 737, and was the launch customer of the 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and 737 MAX 8. Southwest Airlines is also poised to be the launch customer for the 737 MAX 7. Southwest added the Boeing 737-700 to its fleet on December 17, 1997. Southwest added the Boeing 737-800 to its fleet on April 11, 2012. The aircraft has 175 seats, 32 more than the former largest 737s in Southwest's fleet.
Since its inception Southwest Airlines has almost exclusively operated Boeing 737 aircraft (except for a brief period when it leased and flew some Boeing 727-200 aircraft). Southwest is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 737, and was the launch customer of the 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and 737 MAX 8. Southwest Airlines is also poised to be the launch customer for the 737 MAX 7.
Southwest added the Boeing 737-700 to its fleet on December 17, 1997. Southwest added the Boeing 737-800 to its fleet on April 11, 2012. The aircraft has 175 seats, 32 more than the former largest 737s in Southwest's fleet.
After completing the purchase of AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran's existing fleet of Boeing 717 aircraft. However, Southwest elected not to integrate them into its fleet and currently leases them to Delta Air Lines.
On December 13, 2011, Southwest placed a firm order for 150 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, becoming the launch customer for the type (although the first delivery of the 737 MAX 8 was to Malindo Air).
On August 29, 2017, Southwest Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8, making it the first airline in North America to do so. The airline was also the first in North America to operate the aircraft on scheduled revenue passenger flights, which began October 1, 2017. On January 2, 2018, Southwest converted 40 options into firm orders for the Boeing 737 MAX 8, bringing total orders of the variant to more than 250 aircraft. On the same day, the airline also announced that it was deferring 23 deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX 7 to 2023-2024 and beyond. On April 26, 2018, Southwest exercised a further 40 options on the Boeing 737 MAX 8, converting them to firm orders. This establishes the airline as the largest 737 MAX customer with 280 total orders for the MAX 8 variant, and 310 aircraft total for the 737 MAX family.
On March 13, 2018, Southwest Airlines took delivery of the 10,000th Boeing 737, setting the Guinness World Record for Boeing which started producing the 737 in January 1967. This beat the previous record of 5,000 set back in 2006. This will be flown under tail number N8717M. There is a special registration plate commemorating the milestone inside the L1 door.
In March 2019, countries around the world banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying in their airspace, due to safety concerns following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 five months prior. On March 13, 2019, the US joined the list of countries banning the Boeing 737 Max when US President Donald Trump ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft. With 4.5% of its fleet being the banned aircraft (34 out of 754 planes), Southwest Airlines was significantly impacted by the ban. The 34 Boeing 737 Max planes used by Southwest airlines made it the largest user of the grounded plane (three airlines tied for second largest with 24 planes). On the day of Trump's announcement, Southwest Airlines stock dropped more than 4% as a result of the grounding.
|Boeing 737-700||513||—||143||Older aircraft to be retired starting in 2019.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 7||—||30||150||Launch customer; scheduled to be delivered from 2019.|
23 aircraft deferred past 2023. To replace 737-700.
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||34||245||175||Entered revenue service on October 1, 2017. |
Received the 10,000th 737.
"Spirit of Renton", N8701Q, first Boeing 737 MAX prototype in fleet. To replace 737-700.
|Boeing 727-200||1979||1987||Boeing 737-300||Leased from Braniff International Airways, and People Express Airlines.|
|Boeing 737-200||1971||2005||Boeing 737-700||Southwest's first aircraft type.|
|Boeing 737-300||1984||2017||Boeing 737-700
Boeing 737 MAX 8
|Boeing 737-500||1990||2016||Boeing 737-700||Launch customer.|
Southwest's original primary livery was "Desert Gold" (Gold, Red and Orange, with pinstripes of white separating each section of color). The word Southwest appeared in white on the gold portion of the tail. On the original three 737-200s, from June 1971, on the left side of the aircraft, the word Southwest was placed along the upper rear portion of the fuselage, with the word Airlines painted on the tail N21SW. On the right side, the word Southwest was on the tail, but also had the word Airlines painted on the upper rear portion of the fuselage.N20SW. This was later revised to simply include "Southwest" on both sides of the tail. The airline's Boeing 727-200s, operated briefly in the late 1970s and early 1980s, featured other variations on the livery; one was painted in a shade of ochre instead of gold with stylized titles on the forward fuselage and an "S" logo on the tail, while others bore the standard livery (albeit in metallic gold) with the word "Southwest" moved from the tail to the forward fuselage.
Southwest introduced the canyon blue livery on January 16, 2001, the first primary livery change in Southwest's then-30-year history. Spirit One was the first aircraft painted in the canyon blue fleet color scheme. The second livery replaces the former primary color, "Desert Gold", with "Canyon Blue" and changes the Southwest text and pinstripes to gold. The orange and red stripes continued to be used. The pinstripe along the aircraft was drawn in a more curved pattern instead of the straight horizontal line separating the colors in the original. For aircraft equipped with blended winglets, the blended winglets were painted to include the text Southwest.com. Southwest completed repainting its entire fleet with the new "Canyon Blue" livery in early 2010; however, Southwest Classic (N714CB), The Herbert D. Kelleher (N711HK) and N792SW, (the final aircraft delivered from Boeing in the original livery, now repainted to Heart), which are Boeing 737–700 aircraft, retained a simplified version of the original "Desert Gold" livery.
A new livery, named "Heart" and developed with firms GSD&M, Lippincott, VML, Razorfish, and Camelot Communications, was unveiled on September 8, 2014. The new livery uses a darker shade of blue. The orange stripe on the tail is changed to yellow; both the red and yellow stripes are now enlarged in reverse pattern; and the belly of the aircraft is now in blue and features a heart, which has been a symbol for Southwest during its 43-year history. Additionally, the pinstripes are changed to a silver-gray; and the Southwest text, now white, has been moved to the front of the fuselage. Lettering is in a font custom designed by Monotype, Southwest Sans. The web address was moved from the winglets to the engines.
Some Southwest aircraft feature special liveries or are named with special decals. Southwest gives these aircraft special names, usually ending in "One." All special liveries painted prior to Spirit One originally wore the standard Desert Gold, red and orange colors on the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Subsequent special liveries featured tails painted with the canyon blue livery, with all earlier specials repainted with the Spirit livery tail. Aircraft painted in special liveries have white painted winglets. Missouri One was the first special livery to feature a modified version of the Heart tail design, with the red and yellow ribbons shrunk in order to fit the Southwest wordmark as it is too large to be used on the fuselage as on other aircraft. Previous special livery aircraft are currently being repainted with the new tail design.
|Table of Southwest Airlines' Special Liveries|
Gary C. Kelly, Chairman and CEO - Tom Nealon, President