As you may have read, Southwest Airlines celebrated our 30th Anniversary of serving Albuquerque (ABQ) on April 6. For this week’s edition of Flashback Fridays, I thought we could take a look back at the opening festivities from 30 years ago. Anytime we open a new station, there is always a lot of celebrating, and as you will see, that tradition goes back at least three decades. But before we look at Southwest’s first day in the Land of Enchantment, let’s take a look at an early shot of the “new” Albuquerque Terminal. (Check out the TWA Convair 880s and the Continental Viscount)
New in this context is a relative term. Above is a view from one of my postcards showing the terminal right after it opened in 1965. The satellite gate building has yet to open, and today’s terminal only bears a resemblance to the building we see above. An upper level concourse now fills the area where the yet-to-be-opened satellite and the old hangars are standing. The main lobby now has two levels with baggage claim on the lower level. For a video of the airport's history, with views of the old terminal, click here.
My history with the airport goes back to the previous terminal building, which opened in 1939. This building still stands, visible from the current terminal, and it currently contains offices and is on the National Register of Historic Places. That original terminal was also built in the Pueblo Style for which New Mexico, my home state, is famous. As a child when I traveled through the old terminal, it was totally outgrown, but I remember how cool and inviting it was inside.
In 1980, ABQ was the first Southwest destination outside of Texas heading west, and as you can see from in these photos from our Archives, our arrival there was a very big deal. Above we see the large crowd on the ramp to welcome our first arrival. Note that one of the airport hotels, the Airport Marina, wanted their presence to be known to arriving Customers.
Inside the gate area, we see two of our Flight Attendants holding a cake decorated for the occasion. Check out the giant party percolator in the background.
Once the photo was taken and the cake cut, our Flight Attendants served drinks to Customers in the gate area. We may have cleaned out the city's supply of cut flowers.
The local media was out in force, and Herb is interviewed by a local reporter (above). It looks like the reporter is enjoying his “camera time.”
To kick off the outbound flight, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held under the tail of N24SW. In the view above, we see reporters from at least four news organizations setting up for a shot of the ceremonies.
And here is Herb, along with local dignitaries, getting ready to cut the ribbon.
With the festivities over, N24SW is ready to depart with the first outbound flight, and it looks as though it will “power out” from the gate without being pushed back. Next week, we will flashback to the opening of our Burbank operation.