Many of you have been following our updates as our new 737-800 moved through the construction process and through the first test flight on February 23. One of those steps was the “in-person” introduction today to members of the media, Southwest Employees, and guests at events hosted in Dallas.
The day kicked off with a media preview of the new aircraft, followed by an Employee celebration. At the media preview, Southwest Executives Mike Van de Ven and Brian Hirshman displayed the aircraft to reporters, showcasing the highlights of the -800’s features like the new Boeing Sky Interior, as well as discussing how the -800 will allow us to add overwater routes and more capacity to slot-restricted airports. Boeing Vice President and Program Manager for the 737 Program, Bev Wyse, closed out the media presentation with a recap of Southwest’s long association with the 737.
Then the aircraft taxied over to the Employee event, where it was dedicated and named Warrior One in salute of the Southwest Employees’ Warrior Spirit. The 737-800 will take our airline to new places and allow us compete in highly competitive, but highly restricted markets like LaGuardia, so it’s only fitting that we name it Warrior One to reflect that “can do” attitude.
This is a beautiful aircraft, and I know our Customers will love it, but it also plays an important strategic role in our future. Warrior One and the other -800s carry 175 passengers, which is a whopping 28 percent increase over our current fleet configuration. Besides improving our unit costs per flight, the -800 gives us opportunities for longer-haul flying and schedule flexibility by adding capacity in those high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted airports.
The Boeing Sky Interior offers a quieter, more comfortable environment for Customers with taller ceilings and more overhead bin space, improved operational security features, and ambient LED reading and ceiling lighting. Besides being more effective, the new interior is energy efficient. Also, our great Flight Attendants can match the lighting to the mood onboard the aircraft—subdued at night or bright and festive for a Las Vegas flight.
After the formal part of the event, Employees were allowed to tour the aircraft and see firsthand the new Boeing Sky Interior with its improved sidewalls, larger overheads, and new ceiling with mood lighting.
After some final certifications, Warrior One and our second 737-800 will be set to enter scheduled service on April 11. I hope you all have
a chance to fly on a brand new Southwest -800 very soon!