In 1971, the world was introduced to Southwest Airlines -- a fun, quirky airline with happy Employees delivering Positively Outrageous Service (and uniforms!), transporting Customers from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ ontime, with a free bag of peanuts and a free soda to wash them down. Fast forward to today (delete the mental image of the hot pants from your mind), and the more you can appreciate that some things never change.
No question, 2008 was one of the most difficult years of the most difficult decade in aviation history. But true to our roots, we zigged when the other airlines zagged, posting an unprecedented 36th consecutive year of profitability. How in the world did we do it? With some of the very same ingredients that set us apart from the very beginning: low fares, legendary Customer Service, the best Employees in the Industry, and the courage and indomitable spirit that is unique to Southwest Airlines and dares us to be different.
Once again, Southwest Airlines received the fewest number of Customer complaints per passenger carried, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). Once again, Southwest Airlines was tops in the ontime performance list for the mainland U.S. carriers. And once again, survey after survey ranked Southwest at or near the top in terms of Customer Service, including being named the 7th most admired Company in the world by FORTUNE magazine.
But 2008 presented some significant challenges, and we’re not out of the woods yet. Fortunately, we were well prepared for the economic hardships with an investment-grade balance sheet, strong liquidity, access to credit markets, and an incredible group of Employees.
Every year, Southwest hosts an annual Shareholder's Meeting at our Headquarters in Dallas. The meeting is an opportunity for our Shareholder's to hear directly from our Executives about the Company's performance from the previous year, the current state of the airline, and what lies ahead for Southwest. Shareholder's also have an opportunity to vote on key issues, nominate and elect Board Members, and, of course, catch up with old friends. Southwest will host our annual Shareholder's meeting tomorrow (May 20), and we look forward to seeing all of our friends and Family.
An electronic copy of our Annual report is available at www.southwest.com under the Investor Relations tab. You can listen to a live webcast presentation of its Annual Meeting of Shareholders. A link to the webcast will be made available via the Investor Relations homepage on the Southwest Airlines web site. Details of the audio webcast are as follows:
To access the live audio webcast on the Investor Relations homepage, click on "About Southwest" and select Investor Relations from the "About SWA" sidebar menu. A replay of the webcast will also be available on the Events Calendar in the Investor Relations section of www.southwest.com.
Minimum Requirements to listen to broadcast: The Windows Media Player software, downloadable free from http://www.microsoft.com, and at least a 56K bps connection to the Internet. If you experience problems listening to the webcast, send an e-mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org.