Southwest Pilots Have Tentative Agreement With Airline On The B737-800


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Southwest Pilots Have Tentative Agreement With Airline On The B737-800

By Daniel Baxter

October 15, 2010 - Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) reached a Tentative Agreement with Southwest Airlines on the addition of the 737-800 to the Southwest fleet. The Company has publicly stated their intent to convert current Boeing 737-700 aircraft orders to the larger 737-800s.  

Adding a new airframe causes a re-opener of the pilots’ contract and this agreement codifies issues related to the new airframe such as pay and work rules. This agreement continues a history of efforts and collaboration between Southwest Airlines and its pilots on collective goals.

“We share the Company’s enthusiasm for the added revenue this aircraft can provide. This allows our pilots to take a leadership role in tying our pay to the Company’s profitability and investing in our future” said Capt. Carl Kuwitzky, SWAPA President.


The agreement includes a single pay rate for the 737; profitability-based raise added to the hard 2 percent raise in 2011; a contract extension with an amendable date extended to September 2012 and a profitability-based raise in 2012. SWAPA will hold a membership vote on this side letter to the contract. Voting will run from November 1, 2010 through December 1, 2010.  

“SWAPA is pleased that our portion of the Company’s acquisition of the 737-800 is complete, and we look forward to sharing in the success Southwest Airlines has projected for this aircraft,” continued Kuwitzky. “Now we can focus our resources on the acquisition of AirTran Airways and the transition into one carrier.” 

"Two months ago, we initiated discussions with both our Flight Attendants and Pilots as part of our contractual requirements to operate the-800," said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

"Today, I want to congratulate both SWAPA and TWU 556, the Union that represents our Flight Attendants, for recognizing the potential long-term benefits associated with adding the -800 to our fleet. We are still evaluating the needs for training, scheduling, aircraft configuration, and other regulatory considerations, but this is an important step in the due diligence process."


The 737-700 was the first of Next Generation series when launch customer Southwest Airlines ordered the variant in November 1993. The variant was based on the 737-300 and entered service in 1998. It replaced the 737-300 in Boeing's lineup, and its direct competitor is the A319. 

It typically seats 137 passengers in a two class cabin or 149 in all economy configuration. The 737-700C is a convertible version where the seats can be removed from the plane to carry cargo. There is a large door on the left side of the aircraft. The US Navy was the launch customer for the 737-700C under the military designation C-40 Clipper. 

The 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. 

A total of 1,814 -800, and 14 -800 BBJ aircraft have been delivered with 1,376 unfilled orders as of January 2010. Ryanair, a European low-cost airline is one of the largest operators of the Boeing 737-800, with a fleet of over 230 aircraft serving more than 1,000 routes across Europe and North Africa.


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