Southwest Airlines has firmed up its plans to introduce the Boeing 737-800 in its fleet through the substitution of 20 -700 orders for the larger variant, and aims to take delivery of the aircraft in March 2012.

Dallas-based Southwest first unveiled its evaluation of the 737-800 in August of this year, and subsequently reached agreements with its pilots and flight attendants to add the aircraft type to its fleet. A fourth flight attendant is required for the -800 due to the aircraft's larger size.

The -800s will features Boeing's new Sky Interior and "full extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards (ETOPs) configuration", says Southwest. Having ETOPs capability would allow Southwest to serve Hawaii.

Southwest says it is working with Boeing to finalise the substitutions of the -800 for its -700 positions.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news