Southwest expects to make decision on re-engined 737 soon

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Long-time Boeing stalwart Southwest Airlines should soon decide on its Boeing narrowbody aircraft soon now that the airframer has committed to re-engine its Boeing 737 narrowbody.

Boeing unveiled its commitment to re-engine last month as it collected half of a massive order from American Airlines. The carrier has not firmed up plans to order 100 of the re-engined aircraft that were part of the arrangement, and Boeing still needs board approval to move forward with development of the programme.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stated at the International Aviation Forecast Summit hosted by the Boyd Group that the carrier was pleased to see Boeing make a decision and move forward.

He stated the carrier expects to decide to do "something with Boeing soon or we will consider other options and take advantage of new aerospace technology. But at this point we are continuing to talk with Boeing".

Boeing has released almost no technical detail about the re-engined 737. At the moment Kelly said Southwest is "engaging with them to try to understand the aircraft".

In the short term Southwest plans to accept delivery of the first of 20 737-800s in the first quarter of 2012. Kelly explained the carrier envisions operating at least 75-100 of the type, noting the extra 38 seats compared with the -700 offer more revenue opportunities and "not a lot of additional costs".