Southwest Airlines has operated Boeing 737s for over 45 years. Charles Kennedy details the low-cost carrier’s love affair with the Boeing twin-jet airliner.


Southwest operates a jawdropping 491 Boeing 737-700s across its network.

Among all the big airliner fleets around the world, one airline/ aircraft type combination stands head and shoulders above the rest: Southwest Airlines and the Boeing 737. Southwest has operated, or will operate, a staggering 1,187 Boeing 737s.

In the late 1960s, when the airline first showed interest in the aircraft, interstate air traffic within the USA was still heavily regulated at the federal level by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

Most of the profitable trunk routes were the exclusive preserve of the nation’s major carriers such as TWA, National Airlines, Eastern Air Lines and Northwest Orient, but federal regulation did not apply to intrastate flying routes that did not cross state borders.


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