A while back we learned of news that Southwest Airlines may expand and start serving Hawaii. This was welcomed news, as seats on Southwest flights will more than likely be cheaper than other airlines. Now, Southwest Airlines has rolled out brand new larger planes that will start hauling passengers next month and could be the planes that are eventually used for the 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 mentioned above, these negotiations will take some time. While airfares may be lower, don’t expect $79 round trips or one-way tickets, as this wouldn’t be feasible. However, Southwest Airlines is always ranked either #1 or top two in customer satisfaction, and a Southwest service to and fro Hawaii would be welcomed.
“As long as you have the demand for 175 customers, it’s a really good business decision,” Kelly 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.
Southwest Airlines currently has the world’s largest all-Boeing fleet. Why not add Hawaii to the mix ASAP. It will mean more for our economy and will give us another flying option when going and coming from the islands.