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Southwest ready to discuss re-engined 737 with Boeing

Southwest Airlines management said today that it is "anxious to sit down with Boeing" to better understand the airframer's recently-announced re-engined 737.

Southwest chief Gary Kelly said, "If Boeing can meet our needs, then I think there is a scenario where we feel like we're done and we can make a commitment and be eligible to launch this re-engined product with Boeing", possibly along with other carriers.

Southwest was the launch customer for the Boeing 737-700, which comprises the largest part of the airline's fleet. The Dallas-based carrier was also a launch customer for the 737-300 and -500 variants.

 

 
   

Boeing announced the new re-engined 737 last month along with a pledge from American Airlines for 100 of the new type.

"I've been a proponent of the re-engining solution for years now, and I think my only disappointment is we didn't come to this re-engining decision sooner, where we could get a re-engined solution sooner," said Kelly.

Kelly added, "I'm just skeptical of the timetable to bring forward an all-new aircraft, clearly that's where Boeing ended up, they were concerned about the viability of that kind of a plan."

Southwest has over 140 737s on firm order with Boeing through 2017, including 737s on order with AirTran Airways, which was recently acquired by Southwest.

Kelly also said that "despite some of the more humorous media reports", Southwest's focus "continues to be with the Boeing Company".

Southwest was also aware of "Boeing's decision before that was made public, which we appreciate", said Kelly.

Kelly's statement differs from remarks made by WestJet chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky, who said that WestJet was "interested and surprised by the announcement that Boeing made, because we thought they were headed in a different direction".

Panamanian Copa Airlines has also expressed an interest in the re-engined 737.

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