Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) (NYSE: LUV) achieved an aviation milestone today by becoming the first airline in North America to offer scheduled service utilizing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. In a nod to Southwest's history, the inaugural MAX 8 flight departed Dallas' Love Field and flew to Houston, one of the carrier's original markets first flown in 1971.
"Today, we begin a new chapter in Southwest's history by introducing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to our Customers and Employees," Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly said from aboard the inaugural scheduled flight. "The MAX 8 is the future of the Southwest (SWX) fleet, and we look forward to connecting Customers to the important moments in their lives through our legendary service delivered with this more fuel efficient* aircraft designed to produce less noise in the communities we serve**."
Southwest launched nine Boeing 737 MAX 8 into service today and expects to end 2017 with 14 of the aircraft. Based upon the delivery schedule, as of July 25, 2017, the airline has 200 firm orders for a combination of MAX 7 and MAX 8.
Southwest's MAX 8 aircraft feature a single-class cabin with 175 seats that offer industry-leading personal space with 32 inches of seat pitch. The new aircraft is further enhanced by the Boeing Sky Interior which offers an LED lighting sequence for each phase of flight and a music-infused cabin experience featuring playlists for boarding and deplaning. Additionally, the MAX 8 is powered by CFM International's all-new LEAP-1B engines, which are designed to be more fuel efficient* and produce less noise**.
Southwest served as the world's launch customer for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 when it announced an order for the new jet in December 2011 and continues a legacy of being the launch customer for the Boeing 737 aircraft series. Southwest has been the world's launch customer for the Boeing 737-300, -500, -700, and MAX series of the world's best-selling, narrowbody airplane.
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Disclaimer: * Based on the amount of fuel used over different flight distances of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 compared to a blended winglet 737-800W configuration. **For equal payloads on a common mission, the 737 Max 8 produces lower community noise levels than the 737-800 aircraft, based upon departure noise analysis.