Friends - Many of you are writing to us concerned about today's news reports regarding the safety and inspections of Southwest Airlines' aircraft.
Let me assure you, first and foremost, that no one is more passionate about the safety of our Customers and Employees than we are, and it is important for you all to know that the situation being reported in the media was never and is not now a safety of flight issue.
The FAA has issued what is called a "letter of penalty" to Southwest Airlines regarding one of many routine, redundant, and overlapping inspections of our fleet. The specific inspection in question involves an extremely small area in one of many overlapping inspections designed to detect early signs of skin cracking on our aircraft.
In March 2007, Southwest Airlines discovered a missed inspection area, disclosed the information to the FAA, and promptly reinspected all of our potentially affected aircraft.
The FAA approved our actions at that time and considered the matter closed as of April 2007.
The Boeing Company, which manufactures all of our aircraft, also supported our aggressive compliance plan, and has issued a statement confirming that we acted responsibly and, more importantly, that the safety of our fleet was not compromised.
The FAA has concerns about the inspection process, which we are willing and eager to work with them to resolve. Receipt of the FAA's letter of penalty gives us the opportunity to present both our case and the facts, which we feel will support our actions taken back in March 2007.
We assure you that this issue never compromised the safety of our fleet. Southwest has an excellent maintenance program, with more Boeing 737 aircraft experience than any carrier in the world. Safety is, has always been, and will always will be our number one priority.