Southwest Airlines has brought forward plans to retire its Boeing 737-300s from 2018 to the third quarter of next year. The Texas-based carrier said the “removal of the type” would simplify its operations and resolve uncertainty surrounding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot training requirements for flying both the 737 Classic and 737 MAX 8.
A spokesman from Southwest said: “The FAA is not expected to complete training requirements until next year, the only solution now is to avoid flying both the Classics and the MAX. Therefore, the Classics will be retired in 2017 prior to the MAX being placed into revenue service. This is a viable and manageable solution, although not preferred. This accelerated retirement of the Classics will result in fewer aircraft and lower available seat mile (capacity) growth in 2017 than previously planned.”
Southwest’s 737 Classic fleet currently consists of 116 737-300s and 11 737-500s. The 737-500s are scheduled to be withdrawn from revenue service in September of this year. The airline also has 170 737 MAX 8s on order from Boeing, the first of which is due for delivery during the third quarter of 2017.