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2010 One Report: Doing Our Part On The Ground

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This is the ninth in a series of posts about our integrated annual report, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we have illustrated our commitment to a triple bottom line and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward. 

Doing our part and being a good neighbor in the communities we serve is not only important when our red bellies are in the air, but also when our canyon blues are parked on the ground.  As part of our vision for a sustainable future, we made a commitment in 2010 to enter all new markets with cleaner-burning ground support equipment (GSE) with electric belt loaders and baggage tractors. 

March of this year was a very busy month for Southwest Airlines with the opening of three new cities—Greenville/Spartanburg and Charleston on March 13 and Newark on March 27.  We kept our commitment to the Planet during these city openings by utilizing brand new GSE—starting on Day One.  This is just one example of how we can’t stand still when it comes to looking for ways to protect our environment. 

Over the past decade, we have focused our efforts on converting our diesel GSE fleet to environmentally-friendly electric-powered equipment.  In 2010, we continued our efforts by converting 19 of our existing gas-powered belt loaders to electric power and repowering five pieces of GSE with cleaner-burning diesel engines. In fact, a majority of the new GSE added to our fleet in 2010 use cleaner-burning technology, including electric, compressed natural gas, propane, and tier-3 and interim tier-4 diesel engines. This brings our total number of GSE pieces using cleaner-burning technology to nearly 1,100. 

We saved more than 570,000 gallons of fuel in 2010 and reduced emissions by approximately 5,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through the use of electric, rather than petroleum-powered, GSE. We also realized additional fuel savings and emission reductions in 2010 from repowering a portion of our GSE with new, cleaner-burning diesel engines.  Mother Earth thanks us for reducing our carbon footprint through fuel savings and emission reductions.  And, because environmentally responsible decisions make good business sense, these conversions not only position Southwest as a sustainable innovator in GSE, but also contributes to saving Southwest millions of dollars in new equipment costs. 

We will continue to look for opportunities to convert GSE to electric power where it makes sense, while not jeopardizing operational and financial integrity. In 2011, we already have plans in place for new electric belt loaders and baggage tractors in our new cities and will continue our GSE conversion program.

We are proud of our commitment to being a good citizen of the world.  We look forward to sharing the journey with you in our blog post series on Performance, People, and Planet, and we hope it will inspire you to read our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, which, in an effort to conserve our natural resources, can only be found online at www.southwest.com/citizenship.