Eco-Friendly Cabin for Southwest

US LOW-cost carrier Southwest Airlines has unveiled a new, eco-friendly interior for certain models of its Boeing 737s and 717s.  The planned changes – which come under the banner of ‘Evolve’ – include lighter, low-profile (thinner) seats that use the same frames as the previous ones and are covered in a fabric claimed to be more durable than traditional leather.  There is also more under-seat space for carry-on luggage and pet carriers, and recyclable carpets are being installed in squares allowing for easy, inexpensive replacement.  In addition, the seat recline has been reduced from three inches to two inches, which Southwest says “preserves onboard personal living space while still allowing for ample seat adjustment.”
According to Bob Jordan, the carrier’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, the new cabin would be installed, starting in March, on its fleet of 737-700s, as well as the 737-700 and 717 aircraft of AirTran, which Southwest purchased in 2010.  He added that the installation process — which will cost an estimated $60 million — should be complete by mid-2013, saying that the weight savings generated by the new, lighter seating could save up to $10 million in fuel costs annually.
The new interior design and thinner seats will allow an extra row – six seats – to be added to each aircraft.  “This has the potential to generate an additional $250 million in revenue annually,” he said.  The reconfigured aircraft will be deployed on routes with “excess demand,” such as longer-haul routes into and out of Las Vegas.