Southwest Airlines famously has a fleet consisting of only Boeing 737 aircraft. While several members of the Texan outfit’s holdings remain parked due to the current climate, let’s take a look at the oldest of the bunch.
The low-cost carrier currently holds the -700, -800, and MAX 8 variants of the 737. According to Planespotters.net, this fleet has an average age of 12.4 years. It is the latter two variants that keep this number low. The -800s have an average age of 5 years, while the MAX 8s have an average of just 2.5 years.
Therefore, it is the -700 variants that are the veterans of the fleet. There are just under 80 units that are over 20 years old or overs, and more planes are approaching this age by the week.
Out of these experienced players, there are three of them that are 23 years old. These narrowbodies all arrived straight from Boeing’s production site in Renton, Washington.
- N707SA is the oldest, with an age of 23.5 years, and it arrived in October 1998. However, it has been parked since March 31st, 2020.
- N709SW arrived at Southwest’s facilities in the same month as its slightly older sibling, and it has an age of 23.4 years. This unit has also been parked for at least between the beginning of April and the end of June of this year.
- N700GS is 23.3 years old, which makes it younger than the other two, but Southwest actually took it in before them. It was delivered in December 1997, and it is not currently parked.
There are three -800s that have an age of 8.4 years, making them the oldest units of this model in Southwest’s fleet.
- N8301J arrived in March 2012 and was given the nickname of Warrior One.
- N8302F also arrived in the same month, and like its sibling, it is not currently stored.
- N8303R was delivered a month later. This unit is also still currently active in the air.
Boeing 737 MAX 8
Understandably, all of the airline’s MAX 8s are on the ground. The type is still under review by the Federal Aviation Administration, and it could be several months before these planes hit the skies again. There are three units that are four years old.
- N8701Q was a testbed for Boeing, and it has an age of 4.7 years. Nicknamed the Spirit of Renton, it arrived in Dallas in June 2018.
- N8702L was also a testbed but is slightly younger at 4.4 years of age. It was delivered to the operator in September 2018.
- N8704Q underwent testing with Boeing for a year and a half before joining Southwest in December 2017. It is presently 4.2 years old.
Changes are expected
Altogether, there is a clear divide between the oldest of the -700s and the other two models. Southwest was heavily relying on the 737 MAX for future services, and it even has more to come. Once the type is cleared to fly again, the oldest of the -700s will naturally be phased out and replaced by the newer variant.
What are your thoughts about Southwest’s fleet? Let us know what you think in the comment section.