Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Saying Goodbye to our 737-500 Aircraft

rwest Employee


Today, our final 737-500 aircraft will retire from the Southwest fleet. The retirement of the -500 marks a major milestone in Southwest’s fleet modernization plan that includes the accelerated retirement of the Classic fleet. By fall of next year, all 737-300 aircraft will be retired from the fleet making way for an all 737 Next Generation (-700 and -800) and 737 MAX (-7 and -8) fleet!



Southwest was Boeing’s launch Customer for the 737-500 in 1987 with an order of 20 aircraft, and the -aircraft debuted in the Southwest fleet in 1990. The 737 -500 was introduced as a replacement for the 737-200 aircraft. The plane came equipped with the CFM56 engine giving the -500 impressive fuel efficiency over 737-200s. (The CFM56 engine has seen many variations and advancements over the years and still powers our -300, -700, and -800 aircraft to this day.) The airframe of the 737-500 is smaller than the 737-300 which allowed it to fulfill a network need to carry fewer passengers on longer routes more economically than both the 737-200 and 737-300. By 1992, Southwest operated 25 737-500s.



By the early ‘90s, Southwest Airlines had grown beyond, well, the southwest. As our routes lengthened and the demand for longer-haul travel increased, the niche benefit of the 737-500 became less of an advantage for Southwest. While the 737-500 entered our fleet later than the 737-300, the smaller airframe and seating capacity of only 122 made it a better candidate to retire out of our fleet first. In 1992, we took delivery of our last 737-500 aircraft.


The 737-500 is a great airplane that carried millions of Southwest Customers and Employees safety to their destinations. We’re celebrating with our Customers and Crews on the final flights of the 737-500 on today; and, as we do with many milestones in our Company history, we plan to commemorate the 737-500 in a future display on the walls of our growing Headquarters campus.

New Arrival

Nice piece, Rich. Thanks for a great tribute to the 735. I was booked on what was supposed to be the last -500 flight but ended up canceling the whole trip when I found out ELP-DAL snuck in what would be the real last -500 flight.  (or maybe not? I hear a spare or two were kept...)


In any case, I had some great times on those old birds. They'll be missed. Here's looking to all of the SWAwesome memories to come on the MAX birds. Smiley Happy

New Arrival

Thanks for the story. It provided great context and history.


Wasn't it most recently used on intra-Texas routes?


I am very happy about themodernization.