Saturday, November 20, 2010

Southwest Airlines flight attendants approve addition of Boeing 737-800 to fleet

Southwest Airlines flight attendants have approved changes to their agreement that will pave the way for larger-capacity Boeing 737 aircraft to be added, the carrier said on Thursday.

Southwest, which is seeking to acquire low-cost rival AirTran to expand in US East Coast markets, said the decision to introduce the 737-800 into its fleet was still not final.

The Dallas-based low-fare airline said it was still waiting for a ratification vote from the full membership of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) on the issue and added it was evaluating network and configuration options.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556 said nearly 85 percent of Southwest flight attendants approved modifications to their collective bargaining agreement that will allow Southwest to introduce the new jet.

In a statement, the TWU said the new pact includes the potential for pay increases tied to Southwest's financial performance and a one-year contract extension.

The Boeing 737-800 seats 189 passengers in a one-class configuration. Southwest currently operates smaller-capacity models of the Boeing 737. Use of the bigger aircraft would allow the carrier to transport more passengers in gate-restricted and higher-growth markets.


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