Southwest Airlines’ chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven, has hailed the start of a “new era” for the operator, after it received the first shipment of its new 737-800 Boeing aircraft. Reuters.com cited Van de Ven’s remarks, which he made at a launch party for the airline’s new fleet of Boeing aircraft. This marks an upgrade from the existing fleet of 737s, as the 737-800s can hold 38 more passengers; bringing the total to 175.

Southwest Airlines has ordered a total of 33 of these; meaning plane finder enthusiasts will have even more aircraft to look out for. “It’s going to make us more profitable from day one,” the COO said, whose airline made the move in a bid to fight increased competition within its marketplace and the rising cost of aircraft fuel.

What’s more, chief executive Gary Kelly said the airline’s costs are “substantially higher today” purely because of fuel costs. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by those working in the industry, including research engineer William Swelbar. “The competition is much leaner and meaner than it has been in the past,”┬áhe explained. “Southwest I think is struggling mightily to differentiate itself.”

In addition to celebrating the aircraft’s arrival, Van de Ven also hailed the hard work of the airline’s employees towards making it happens. Avionics-intelligence.com confirmed this; stating that the COO made reference to the staff’s “Herculean efforts” and said it was a very “proud” day for him.

We have seen the first SWA 737-800, tail number N8301J, on Plane Finder already.

http://planefinder.net/flight/8511/time/2012-03-19T18:55:00%20UTC

N8301J has been named Warrior One and will begin service on April 11.

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