Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Southwest Airlines today celebrated the 5,000th 737 to come off the production line as thousands of Boeing employees and special guests attended an historic delivery ceremony at the company's Renton, Wash., manufacturing facility.
"The 737 is an icon of efficiency in air travel and one of commercial aviation's greatest success stories," said Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are absolutely thrilled that the world's largest 737 operator -- Southwest Airlines -- is the owner of this historic airplane. Our partnership with Southwest and hundreds of other 737 customers has resulted in continuous improvements to the 737 and its ability to help our customers be successful."
The 5,000th 737, a 737-700 painted in Southwest Airlines colors, is the 447th 737 to join the carrier's fleet. Southwest has helped launch three Boeing 737 models -- the 737-300, -500 and the -700.
"Southwest Airlines has been a proud Boeing customer for nearly 35 years, growing our 737 fleet to 445 at the end of 2005," said Laura Wright, chief financial officer, Southwest Airlines. "We'll take delivery of 33 more Boeing 737s in 2006, supporting our continued growth across America."
With more than 4,100 airplanes in service, the 737 represents more than a quarter of the total worldwide fleet of large commercial jets flying today. More than 541 operators fly 737s into more than 1,200 cities in 190 countries. It is estimated that approximately 1,250 737s are in the air at any given moment, with one taking off or landing every 4.6 seconds.
The Boeing 737 is the best-selling commercial jetliner of all time, with total orders now exceeding 6,000 airplanes. The 737 family includes the initial -100 and -200 models, which entered service in 1968; the Classic -300, -400 and -500 models, which entered service in 1984; and the newest members -- the Next-Generation 737-600, -700, -800 and -900ER models, which entered service in 1998.
The newer 737s, which are 10 years younger than the competing A320 series, were designed to provide significantly more range and payload capability and lower operating costs than earlier 737 models and competing models. Known for its industry-leading reliability and efficient design, the Next-Generation 737 consumes three to seven percent less fuel per seat and offers up to 22 percent lower maintenance cost than the competition.
As of January 31, 2006, 95 customers have placed orders for more than 3,000 Next-Generation 737s; the program has 1,154 undelivered units in its order backlog with a value of more than $73 billion at current list prices.
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