At one of our Southwest Rallies earlier in the year, Gary shared a story about how secretive Herb was about plans for Florida for many years. No doubt, one of the many lessons Gary took to heart from Herb was the importance of keeping a secret in this brutally competitive industry.
Florida was a destination everyone looked forward to our airline serving for a long time, but making sure the proper resources were in place beforehand would be key to our success in the Sunshine State. On July 13, 1995, the day finally came where Herb could let the cat out of the bag and announce big plans for more than 50 daily flights to Florida starting in early 1996.
“Our foray into Florida is now possible because of ten aircraft deliveries from Boeing. We promised our Customers that we intended to serve Florida, and we are formalizing that announcement today,” said Herb. During 2 p.m. press conferences held simultaneously at what would become our three newest Stations, the plan was shared to initially commence service to Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale in January, followed by Orlando a few months later. The first flights were primarily to short-haul destinations on the east coast, and even connected a few intrastate dots to the new cities themselves.
Over the past 20 years, our service to Florida has grown to more than 350 daily flights, making it possible for thousands of families make unforgettable vacation memories. Florida One, our flying tribute to the Sunshine State, also helps us celebrate the home of more than 5,000 Southwest Employees.
In 2017, another chapter in our history will be written when the new international terminal opens, making it even easier for Customers to connect to Florida and what’s important in their lives.