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Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it will celebrate the first flights of the newest version of its Boeing 737, the Max, on Oct. 1.
Flyers eager to take the first flight of the brand new plane will have to make their way down to Texas, with special inaugural routes from Dallas to Houston, Houston to San Antonio and San Antonio to Dallas.
Aviation history buffs will recognize those routes as Southwest's original markets when it launched service in 1971.
Southwest will put nine new Boeing 737-8s into service Oct. 1, but it hasn't officially announced what permanent routes they'll be flying. Another five jets will be added to the fleet by the end of 2017.
The carrier said Thursday that the new, more efficient planes will generally be used on longer-haul flights, stopping for the night at one of the Dallas-based carrier's maintenance or crew bases.
The Max is the latest update to a aircraft model that has formed the core of Southwest's fleet since the company's founding. With a total of 200 on order and options to purchase 191 more, the Max will be a major part of Southwest's fleet for decades to come.
The inside of the new version will look familiar to anyone who's flown on one of Southwest's 737-800s, featuring the latest interior layout with 175 synthetic leather-clad chairs, larger overhead bins and improved galley spaces.
The real upside for Southwest comes from the Max's engines, which will make the aircraft's fuel burn 14 percent more efficient and increase its range by 300 to 500 miles. Boeing has called the Max the most efficient single-aisle aircraft on the market.
"It's a stair-step improvement to our fleet," Southwest's chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven said last year. "I think this airplane is the best in class out there in terms of economics ... it's going to allow us to continue to offer great, reliable, low-fare service."
(Conor Shine - The Dallas Morning News)