Southwest Airlines

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Boeing surprised by rupture in 737 fuselage

The NTSB displays the 5-foot-long fuselage skin section taken from the Southwest Airlines accident aircraft on Tuesday. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)

Boeing Co. said Tuesday that its engineering and safety experts were caught off guard by Friday’s rupture in the fuselage of a midair Southwest Airlines Co. jet, failing to anticipate the risks of such an incident “until much, much later” in the aircraft’s life.

In an attempt to explain what went wrong, including technical missteps by Boeing, a senior company engineer laid out some of the decisions and analyses by the aerospace giant that unwittingly set the stage for the five-foot tear in the aluminum skin of the 15-year-old Boeing 737 aircraft. The tear led to the rapid decompression of the passenger cabin while the plane was cruising at 36,000 feet, but no one was seriously injured. Get the full story »

FAA orders inspections of older, well used 737s

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency safety directive calling for stepped-up structural inspections affecting three older versions of Boeing Co.’s workhorse 737 jetliners, in the wake of the 5-foot fuselage rupture on a Southwest Airlines Co. flight last Friday. Get the full story »

Southwest cancels 70 flights, shares down 4%

Southwest Airlines Co canceled 70 flights on Monday as it continued to inspect Boeing 737 planes following the emergency landing on Friday of a jet with a hole in its fuselage.

Spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said 70 flights systemwide were canceled for Monday out of about 3,400 daily flights. Of 79 older Boeing 737-300 planes that were designated for additional inspections after the Friday incident, 33 had been returned to service, she said. Get the full story »

Southwest Airlines expands service in New York

Southwest Airlines Co. began offering airline service Sunday in Newark, N.J., a vital cog in the discount carrier’s efforts to expand in the New York-metro market and to attract more business travelers. Get the full story »

Southwest recovers from 2 glitches, snarled flights

Southwest Airlines is recovering from two unrelated computer outages Tuesday that caused the carrier’s online reservations systems to crash and briefly snarled its flight operations.

The technical foul-ups were resolved overnight, said Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz, via e-mail. “We may have had some temporary periods of slowness as we are still working through all issues with the conversion, but for the most part it’s been running smoothly today,” he added.
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Southwest chief sees no cuts over higher fuel prices

The head of Southwest Airlines Co.  said Friday that successive fare increases brought on as the industry battles with soaring jet-fuel costs isn’t cutting into demand.

Gary Kelly, chairman and chief executive of Dallas-based Southwest, said he didn’t see signs of “demand destruction” and has no plans to cut capacity at this point. Get the full story »

Southwest raises fares by $10 for round-trip ticket

Southwest Airlines Co. is raising fares by $10 for a round trip, saying it needs the money to offset higher fuel costs.

The move Friday was the latest in a series of price increases from major U.S. airlines, most of which are making money after a 2-year slump. Get the full story »

Southwest overhauls frequent-flier program

Passengers board a Southwest Airlines jet in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Southwest Airlines is preparing a $100 million reboot of its Rapid Rewards frequent-flier program that executives describe as the biggest product launch in the carrier’s 40-year history.

Effective March 1, the low-cost carrier plans to unveil a more complicated point system to replace its current program of awarding a free trip to passengers who log 16 flights over a 24-month stretch.

It is unprecedented and risky for a major airline to completely remake its loyalty program from scratch, analysts said. Get the full story »

Southwest Airlines to order larger Boeing aircraft

Southwest Airlines will order 20 new, larger versions of the Boeing 737 that could pave the way for the all-domestic airline to offer international flights.

CEO Gary Kelly said Wednesday that Southwest will change an existing order with Boeing to get new 737-800 jets beginning in early 2012. The 737-800s have 38 more seats than the largest planes in Southwest’s current fleet. Get the full story »

Southwest Air pilots approve bigger Boeing jet

Southwest Airlines Co said its pilots approved changes to their labor agreement allowing the addition of a bigger-capacity Boeing Co 737 plane that will enable the carrier to transport more passengers as it expands.

The traditional low-fare airline, which is planning to buy rival AirTran Holdings Inc to bolster its presence in U.S. East Coast cities, said it would now move to finalize talks with Boeing on substitutions of 737-800 models for 737-700s. It added it expects delivery of its first 737-800 in the first quarter of 2012. Get the full story »

Flight attendants clear Southwest to fly bigger jets

Bloomberg News | A vote to approve contract changes Thursday by Southwest flight attendants has cleared the way for the airline to start flying larger737  jets on popular routes.

Southwest touts benefits of AirTran deal

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday it expects to win over new customers and bring lower fares to unserved cities should its purchase of AirTran Holdings Inc. be completed.

“This really has the opportunity financially to be a hone run for our shareholders, our employees and customers,” Southwest Executive Vice President of Strategy and Planning Bob Jordan told a media briefing at company headquarters in Dallas. Get the full story »

Southwest, AirTran announce fare sales

Both Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways announced short-term fall fare sales Tuesday.

Southwest’s sale, which ends at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, offers one-way tickets for $30, $60, $90 and $120 to select destinations, based on the length of travel. There are blackout periods during the December holiday period. Get the full story »

Southwest to attack rivals’ flight-change fees

Passengers at the Southwest Airlines counter at Midway airport, Sept. 27, 2010. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Southwest Airlines is giving its “bag cops” a break.

Southwest has been running a heavy dose of TV commercials boasting that unlike most other airlines it lets passengers check two bags for free.

But the airline said Friday it will launch a new TV commercial designed to boost sales on its Web site. The ad, featuring singing and dancing employees in Chicago, is important to Southwest because its flights don’t appear on online booking websites such as Orbitz and Travelocity. Get the full story »

JetBlue CEO: Southwest buy won’t affect growth

Southwest Airlines Co.’s plan to buy AirTran Holdings will not affect JetBlue Airways’ intent to grow organically, JetBlue’s chief executive said.

In a memo to employees obtained by Reuters, Dave Barger said JetBlue “would not be distracted” by the planned Southwest purchase of AirTran for $1.4 billion in cash and stock. Get the full story »