Southwest firms options on 79 Boeing 737-700s

Washington DC
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By Mary Kirby in Philadelphia

Southwest Airlines today exercised options on 79 Boeing 737-700s bringing its total firm orders for the type to 140.

Deliveries will begin in 2007 and run through 2012, says the low-cost carrier in a statement. Dallas Love Field-based Southwest says it also has options on 116 more -700s, with delivery positions in 2008-2012, plus 54 purchase rights for delivery until 31 December 2014.

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Company chief executive Gary Kelly says the firm order shows Southwest is “confident about our future growth opportunities”. Southwest today posted a first quarter net profit of $61 million.

This year the carrier will take delivery of a total 33 -700s. CFM International (CFM), the 50/50 joint venture between Snecma and GE that has exclusive manufacturing rights to the 737 series, values the carrier’s latest engine order at $1 billion. The manufacturer says Southwest’s fleet will reach more than 550 aircraft by 2012.

Southwest currently carriers more passengers within the USA than any other domestic airline.