Southwest Airlines takes delivery of the first Boeing 737-800, warns of a loss in the 1Q

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has taken delivery of the first Boeing 737-800 marking a new milestone in the company’s history. The pictured 737-8H4 registered N8301J (msn 36980) joined the WN fleet on March 8, 2012. The airliner is undergoing Row 44 WiFi installation before being presented to the employees at the Dallas (Love Field) base. Following FAA type certification, the new type is expected to enter revenue service on April 11, 2011 as flight WN 1717 between Chicago (Midway) and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.

In other news, as previously mentioned the company expects to report an unusual net loss for the first quarter. Southwest was forecasting fuel costs would be around $3.35 a gallon but it is closer to $3.50. The airline has raised its ticket prices 10 times in the last 12 months according to this article by the Associated Press. Bookings for the spring have also weakened.

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In other news, Southwest Airlines has announced several executive changes at the company:

Matt Hafner, Southwest’s current Vice President of Integrated Operations, has been named Vice President of the Operations Coordination Center. In this role, Hafner will oversee Southwest’s 3,200 daily flights and AirTran’s more than 600 flights, ensuring that Customers receive a safe and efficient flight experience. Hafner will lead areas including Dispatch, Meteorology, Operations Coordination Center Automation and Support, Air Traffic, Customer Service Coordinators, Flight Following, and the coordination efforts with Maintenance Control. Hafner started his Southwest career in June 1988 as a Dallas Ramp Agent, and later served in numerous positions within the Ground Operations Department. More recently, Hafner held positions including Senior Director Ground Operations and Vice President Ground Operations.

Jack Smith, AirTran Airways’ current Senior Vice President of Customer Service, is joining Southwest Airlines as Vice President of Ground Operations/AirTran. In his new role, Smith will oversee all Ground Operations for AirTran Airways. Smith will play a key role in the integration ofSouthwest and AirTran Ground Operations functions, while maintaining operational excellence and outstanding Customer Service. An industry veteran for more than 30 years, Smith joined AirTran in April 2002. Smith has been responsible for Ground Operations, Inflight, Cargo, Reservations, and Customer Relations during his career.  Prior to joining AirTran, Smith held various Leadership positions for both Northwest Airlines and Midway Airlines.

Nan Barry, Southwest’s current Senior Director to the Chief Executive Officer, has been promoted to Managing Director of the Executive Office. In her new role, Barry will serve as Chief of Staff to Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer.  She also will oversee the administration of Southwest’s Board of Directors and the Executive Office as well as management of the Company’s Executive Committees.  Barry also leads the Internal Customer Care Team and serves on the Board of the Southwest Airlines Catastrophic Assistance Charity.  Barry joined Southwest Airlines in 1988, and served in a variety of leadership positions within the Finance Department, including Senior Director of Treasury and Tax.  Prior to Southwest, Barry worked in public accounting for Arthur Young & Co. She is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Texas.

Jim Sturgis has been named Southwest’s Managing Director of Quality, Programs, and Maintenance Safety. In this new role, which reports within the Technical Operations Department, Sturgis will provide Leadership for the Quality Assurance, Aircraft Programs, and Maintenance Safety Teams and will be the liaison and point of contact with the FAA concerning all regulatory affairs relative to Southwest Maintenance. Sturgis joins Southwest from CAVOK, a global aviation regulatory consulting firm, where he served as President. Sturgis has a long history of successfully guiding airlines through the complexities of regulatory issues and has been a key advisor to Southwest during its integration with AirTran. As a founder of CAVOK, Sturgis has assisted air carriers; Maintenance, Repair, and Overhauls (MROs); and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with inducting new fleets into their operations, implementing new processes, and designing and implementing Safety Management Systems. He also has led numerous merger/acquisition activities from a regulatory perspective, including the three largest in U.S. aviation history.  Sturgis has held senior leadership positions in technical services, maintenance training, technical publications, flight operations, and flight crew training at various commercial airlines.

Sturgis will join Southwest Airlines on April 2, 2012. All other changes are effective immediately.

Copyright Photo: David Lilienthal.

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