On Oct. 1, 2017 , Southwest Airlines flew its inaugural flight on its new plane – the Boeing 737 Max, increasing area coverage and reducing emissions. The Max has updated winglets and larger engines, but its dimensions are nearly the same as its predecessor, the 737-800. Inside, the Max has the same blue-clad interior, approximately 30 additional seats and the galleys have been updated.
The aircraft’s engines burn an estimated 14% less fuel than the previous generation of 737s, helping Southwest save on its second largest operating expense while cutting down emissions. Perhaps most important is the 500 nautical miles of additional range Southwest says the jet will provide, which will increase the routes that are possible operationally and profitably.
Southwest Airlines is expected to have 9 of the new aircraft in service by year end 2017 and 36 total by year end 2018. In 10 years, Southwest could have as many as 391 of the aircraft, a figure that represents more than half of the carrier’s current fleet size of about 700 aircraft.
Southwest is now one of the country’s largest domestic airlines, carrying more than 124 million paying passengers in 2016 and adding international flights to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
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