Earlier today, I shared with our Employees that Southwest has been evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into our fleet as part of our domestic network, but we have not yet finalized our decision. While the aircraft introduces additional complexities to our operation, we believe our existing network could be enhanced by converting some of our future 737-700 deliveries to 737-800s. Introducing the -800, which has more seating capacity than the -700, would be a complementary fit to our current fleet by supplementing opportunities for longer-haul flying, while also potentially improving our unit costs. The -800 can also give Southwest scheduling flexibility by allowing for additional capacity in high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted markets—in other words, we can carry more passengers to some of our most popular destinations.
Since the decision to add the -800 has not been finalized, any details regarding configuration, timing, and quantity of deliveries are still to be determined. Given the long Boeing lead time from order to delivery, Southwest would need to make a final decision by December 1 to begin accepting deliveries by early 2012. We are proud to continue our strong history of being the largest Boeing 737 operator in the world, and excited for the potential opportunities that lie ahead for Southwest Airlines which would come with introducing the -800 into our fleet.