Over 35 years ago, Rollin King and Herb Kelleher decided to create a different type of airline. They began with the simple notion: If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time and at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline. They were right (Southwest Airlines, 2004)! What began as a small Texas airline has grown to become one of the largest airlines in the United States. Today, Southwest Airlines flies over 70 million passengers per year to more than 62 cities. Southwest orchestrates over 3,000 flights per day. The Southwest fleet consists of over 436 jets which have an average age of nine years old. Included in the fleet are three killer whales - Shamu One, Two and Three; Lone Star One, which is painted like the Texas flag in celebration of Southwest Airlines' 20th Anniversary; Arizona One, California One, Nevada One, New Mexico One and Maryland One which are all tributes to the named states as a symbol of their importance to Southwest Airlines; Silver One, the 25th Anniversary airplane; and Triple Crown One which is dedicated to the employees of Southwest Airlines for their marvelous achievement of five consecutive annual Triple Crown Awards. In May 1988, Southwest was the first airline to win the coveted Triple Crown for a month. The Triple Crown Award consists of Best On-Time Record, Best Baggage Handling, and Fewest Customer Complaints. Since then, it has won the distinction more than thirty times as well as winning five consecutive Annual Triple Crown Awards for the years of 1992 through 1996. No other airline has contributed more to the advancement of the commercial airline industry than Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines was the first airline with a frequent flyer program to recognize the number of trips taken rather than the number of miles flown. Southwest also pioneered senior discounts, Fun Fares, Fun Packs, a same-day air freight delivery service, ticketless travel and other unique programs. (Southwest Airlines, 2004).
In 1971, with Lamar Muse at the helm and three jets in the company, Southwest Airlines took its maiden voyage to begin service between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas. In 1972, Houston service was moved to Houston's Hobby Airport from Houston Intercontinental. Why? Herb Kelleher, co-founder asked, "After all, why should our Customers have to drive 45 minutes to take a 40-minute flight?" (p.2). In 1973, through the Texas Aeronautics Commission, service was added to the Rio Grande Valley. With the addition of RUSH Cargo service, Southwest achieved a profitable year for the first time!
By the end of 1974, Southwest Airlines had carried their one millionth passenger. In 1976, there were over one and a half million satisfied customers and the sixth Boeing 737 had been placed in service. In 1977, Southwest stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange as "LUV" and the five millionth passenger had been carried. In 1978, Lamar Muse stepped down as President and Herb Kelleher became Chairman of the Board. Howard Putman was elected President and Chief Executive Officer. The Southwest aircraft N52 was christened the "Herbert D. Kelleher" in honor of the co-founder (p.2). Self-ticketing machines were introduced in 10 cities in 1979 to help make it faster and more convenient to fly Southwest. A new route from Dallas to New Orleans (the first to fly outside Texas) was added. In the short-haul, domestic carrier industry, Southwest became America's "Company Plane" because the airline had more planes, more flights and more responsive service. The first Boeing 737 to be completely owned by Southwest Airlines, its 22nd Boeing 737 was added and christened the "Rollin H. King" to honor the co-founder in 1980. In 1981, to celebrate a decade of "Love Southwest Style", Southwest added games, fun and more savings for everyone! In 1982, Herb Kelleher assumed the role of...
References: Southwest financial statements. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2006, from
U.S. Department of Transportation. (1993). The Airline Deregulation Evolution Continues – The
Southwest Effect. Retrieved March 19, 2006, from www.setlovefree.com/pdf.DOT_SouthwestEffect.pdf
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