Thursday, November 18, 2010

Southwest Airlines Attendants Approve New Rules for Larger Boeing Plane

Southwest Airlines Co. flight attendants approved contract revisions that will enable the carrier to buy a larger-model Boeing Co. 737 to carry more passengers on popular routes.

The vote was 3,126 to 569, the Transport Workers Union said in a statement today. The revisions provide for an additional attendant on the 175-seat 737-800 and extend the current contract by one year to 2013.

Southwest, the largest discount carrier, is considering switching existing orders for some 737-700s to the -800, which has 28 percent more seats and is more fuel efficient. The Dallas-based airline is the largest operator of Boeing 737s, the only type of aircraft it flies.

“It’s a vote of confidence in ongoing progress at Southwest,” Thom McDaniel, president of TWU Local 556, said in the statement. “We are fully involved in the growth and expansion of our company.” The union represents 9,700 attendants at the carrier.

The larger plane will let Southwest boost seating capacity even as it holds its fleet of 737s steady, taking new aircraft only as replacements for older ones. Southwest will also be able to pack more passengers on high-demand routes and fly to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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