Southwest Airlines famously only operates one type of aircraft – the Boeing 737. The carrier has trusted the narrowbody on its operations across the United States for five decades. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at how many 737s have formed part of the Texan outfit’s fleet over the years.
Hitting the 1,000-unit milestone
Southwest first commenced operations on June 18th, 1971, making this month its 50th anniversary of services. Overcoming significant challenges since its inception, Southwest currently has 746 Boeing 737 aircraft within its fleet. Moreover, according to ch-aviation, the operator has had 297 historical units.
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Breaking it down
Southwest previously held 35 737-200s. Registration N20SW was the first to arrive, doing so in June 1971. N90SW was the final one of these variants to leave, departing in June 2009.
The airline held 195 737-300s. Registration N300SW kicked off the trend in November 1984.
25 737-500s were in the fleet. N503SW was the first to be delivered, arriving in February 1990. N522SW, N526SW, and N527SW ended an era on September 6th, 2016.
The company first took on the 737-700 in December 1997 when N700GS arrived. This model by far makes up the biggest segment of 737 aircraft in Southwest’s fleet. The airline currently has 472 of them across its facilities. Moreover, 42 units were previously operated by the firm.
The 737-800s began arriving in 2012, with N8301J and N8302F first joining the fold. Now, Southwest holds 207 of them.
The MAX 8 is the latest member of the family to arrive. N8710M got the ball rolling in August 2017, and 67 units out of 150 have joined so far. Notably, Southwest Airlines is the biggest customer by order of the MAX, further expecting 200 MAX 7s.
It’s worth a note that some of the delivered aircraft may yet to be flown commercially. For instance, there are 737 MAX 8 aircraft that have only joined the outfit in the last month or so and are currently parked.
Nonetheless, the airline has held a whopping 1,043 Boeing 737s since commencing flights with the type 50 years ago. The carrier will undoubtedly be looking to carry on serving its passengers across the US for at least another half-century as it recovers from its most recent challenge amid the pandemic.
What are your thoughts about Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737 fleet? Which variant has been your favorite to fly when traveling with the carrier over the years? Also, do you think that the company should diversify or keep with the all-737 approach? Let us know what you think of the aircraft in the comment section.