2020 too late for Southwest 737 replacement

Discussion in 'Southwest Airlines | Rapid Rewards (w/ AirTran)' started by jbcarioca, May 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    The end of the decade is "too long to wait" for an all-new aircraft to replace its ageing 737 Classics, according to Southwest Airlines.
    "We've got fleet of 200 airplanes out there. At some point we're going to have to do something with and we can't wait until 2020," said Southwest Airlines vice-president operations co-ordination centre, Jeff Martin about the carrier's block of 122-seat 737-500s and 137-seat 737-300s.
    Boeing is likely to indicate more clearly at June's Paris air show of whether it plans to re-engine the 737, for delivery mid-decade, or develop an all-new aircraft to enter into service at the end of the decade.
    Martin added that the need to replace its ageing fleet of 737 Classics combined with Boeing's timing for a new narrowbody may be incompatible for Southwest. However, that has not disqualified its long-standing sole-aircraft supplier from the competition.



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    The end of the decade is "too long to wait" for an all-new aircraft to replace its ageing 737 Classics, according to Southwest Airlines.


    "We'll give them a shot just like everybody else, [the] main thing is as any partner you have to communicate with them exactly what you want. [I'm] not sure we have, on our side, fully defined that for them," he said. The March 2012 arrival of its first 737-800s will guide its thinking, he said.
    Its recently completed acquisition of AirTran will enable it to understand if it can operate multiple types with the introduction of AirTran's Boeing 717s alongside its 737s.
    Martin said Southwest's multiple fleet move "perks up everybody's ears", eliminating the sole barrier to entry for manufacturers other than Boeing to sell aircraft to it.
    "We're going to manage multiple fleets, but what we're really going to look at is who can bring us 25% efficiency," he said, "We've squeezed the turnip, there's nothing left in the NG. It now goes back to the airframe and the engine. We'll look at re-engining, but we're waiting for someone to tell us what [Boeing is] going to do," said Martin of the incremental improvement it has sought through technology updates to its 737s, including having installed winglets on 80% its 737 fleet.
    "Once we get through [the] AirTran [integration] we've got another year's work I think then we'll come up and start looking around and determine what we're going to do," he said. "Right now, it's all hands on deck for the integration, but we know we've got a subfleet of airplanes that we need to address - that's the classics and there's 200 of them."
    Martin said the $175 million move to RNP precision navigation and autothrottle controls on its 737s have opened the door to new fleet types as the primary flight display/navigation display arrangement is virtually universal across all manufacturers' avionics.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/article...0-too-late-for-southwest-737-replacement.html
     
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  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    1. I would think that it's easier/cheaper to operate a mixed 717 and 737 fleet compared to 737 and Airbus.

    2. I would guess that they'll get rid of their 717s first. They're older technology and less efficient, probably older, right? Did AirTran tend to turn aircraft as quickly as Southwest, or have the 717s been used less intensely?

    3. Will their recent airframe issues cause them to accelerate the replacement of the 737s?
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    1. On the face of it that might be true, but it also might not. Airbus would move mountains to get Southwest; I doubt they would ahve any way to begin deliveries anytime soon since the NEO has over 300 orders already.
    2. The 717 are much newer than the 737 Classics, the oldest one was delivered in 1999. They are very efficient and cheap to operate, but they are 100 seaters and the market has moved mostly larger. AirTran had most of them, 88. They are very, very reliable also, so Southwest will use them on thinner routes as it is already doing, and will probably get rid of the 737 Classics before the 717.
    3. The 737 Classics are maintenance hogs now, and are expensive to operate. Southwest has wanted to replace them but has not thought the 737NG was enough of a benefit.

    IMO, the A320NEO is beginning to present an issue because it is a rapid and economical solution, durable and real. IMHO, this is a ploy to drive Boeing to decide now what they will do and force them to do it. Do they have enough power to push Boeing into action? I don't know, but the A320NEO must be worrying Boeing, especially because Airbus is offering the current A320 to be used until the NEO arrives.

    Whatever happens this will be an excellent spectator sport for all of us.
     
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  4. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Given the popularity of Southwest on some routes, I'm surprised they don't operate a few 757s. That would allow them to add more aircraft from the same supplier and shift existing 737s to new routes as they continue to expand.
     
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  5. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    The larger 737NG have replaced 757 so they'd just decrease fleet commonality and increase operating costs by using 757's. If they could not get a big imporvement otehrwise the current Boeing model for that increased range and load would be the 737-900ER. Southwest only operated the -700 at present, which is essentially a hugely updated -200. The primary references are here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_757
    http://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Southwest Airlines.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_717
     
  6. eponymous_coward
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    Because 757s are too much plane for WN's route network (which is built around 400-1000 mile flights, so the 757's extended range is completely wasted), as well as being fuel and maintenance hogs (since the vast majority of them are 10+ years old)? Also, the 757 doesn't have a similar flight deck to the 737- it's similar to the 767, thus this means extra expense for training pilots.

    So, basically, there's just no reason whatsoever to use a 757 for WN. If WN really, really wanted jets with more seats without the expense of a new fleet type of buying beater 757s, they could switch 73G orders to 73H (which they have),. or 739 (which they haven't but they could).
     
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  7. bakedpatato
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    bakedpatato Gold Member

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    Don't know why WN isn't replacing all their Classics with NGs, especially with the maintenance problems(publicity!).
    The new build NGs(WN ordered some, but without the Sky Interior) have 1% less fuel burn than the older NGs and the older NGs have a 15-20%ish fuel burn advantage over the Classics(plus the bigger carryon bins). WN has some of the oldest NGs so by the time the 797 or whatever Boeing has in store to replace the NG, they should be ready for replacement, while the newer NGs can solider on like the current Classics.
    The 737RS(aka NGs re-engined) program from what I've been hearing cannot deliver more than 30% less fuel burn than a Classic while the 797 can probably do a lot better...I don't think 10% is worth complaining to Boeing over when WN can save more fuel and make customers happy/feel safe RIGHT now with a (heh) even larger order of NGs to retire their Classics; I'm thinking this is just a way for WN to negotiate with Boeing.
    Plus every airline(especially AS) loves their 738s; I'm thinking WN will probably buy more once they get the hang of it.
     
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