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A Message From Our President: "Happy Birthday Southwest!"

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I feel like a stranger in a strange world venturing into the blogosphere, but I hope that youColleen.jpg are enjoying Nuts About Southwest. I have been nuts about our wonderful Company for almost four decades, and I think it is great that our Employees and Customers have been able to share their own enthusiasm for Southwest through this blog. On Saturday, June 17, we hold our annual Awards Banquet here in Dallas, and each year, we celebrate those Employees who have completed their Tenth, 20th, 25th, and 30th Anniversaries, along with those who are receiving our President's Awards for above and beyond service. This year is even more special as we celebrate our 35th Anniversary, and we will also celebrate the group of Original Employees who are completing 35 years of service. As those small-town newspapers like to say, "A grand time will be had by all"! June 18 marks Southwest Airlines' 35th Anniversary. When we first took to the sky in 1971, our future was far from secure. Four years prior to that, our Cofounders, Rollin King and Herb Kelleher, met to discuss an idea for a new airline that would bring low fares and high frequencies to flights between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The new airline, originally known as Air Southwest, would spend the next four years fighting continual court battles against the existing carriers just to win the right to operate. The legal battles didn't stop on June 18, 1971, and for the rest of the decade we had to fight to expand, to remain at Love Field, and to extend our reach beyond Texas' borders. Besides the legal challenges, we faced many economic hardships, which gave birth to the Warrior Spirit that has provided the "wings" upon which Southwest could grow and thrive. Today, we face different but equally challenging obstacles, yet the Warrior Spirit—hard work, courage, perseverance, and innovation—still soars at Southwest. But, the Warrior Spirit is only one part of the Southwest Way. Certainly, Warrior Spirit is our muscle, but our Servant's Heart that puts People first and our soul, a FUN-LUVing attitude, complete the Southwest Way. On our 35th Anniversary, we still have 17 Original Employees working with us, and they defined the Southwest Way for their Coworkers. They and those who followed helped Southwest grow from a Texas airline serving three cities with three airplanes to a coast-to-coast airline serving 62 cities in 31 states with almost 460 aircraft. For this important occasion, I want to celebrate People, our Employees and you, our Customers, because without our Employees' LUV, hard work, and sacrifice and your own LUV, support, and loyalty through good times and bad, we never would have lasted, much less thrived, for 35 years. To me, the most exciting part of our history and our future, are the People of Southwest Airlines, and I am so grateful to have walked and worked among them. So, to each of you from all of us, we say Happy Birthday and let's celebrate! -- Colleen Barrett