There is exciting news on the alternative fuels front this Green Tuesday. You may have read recently that Southwest is one of seven ATA member airlines to sign a letter of intent to negotiate the purchase of fuel derived from biomass. To produce the fuel, Solena Fuels will utilize biomass, which is post-recycled urban and agricultural wastes. By using this biomass, approximately 550,000 metric tons of waste will be diverted that would otherwise go to a landfill. Solena plans to use the biomass at its Northern California plant to produce up to 16 million gallons of neat jet fuel (as well as 14 million gallon equivalents of other energy products) per year by 2015 to support airline operations at Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) and/or San Jose (SJC). The jet fuel will have lower emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants than petroleum-based fuels. Southwest is an active member of CAAFI (Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative), which is dedicated to the development and deployment of commercially viable, environmentally-friendly alternative aviation fuels. This is the first approved commercially viable fuel and plant, and Southwest is excited to be a part of this initiative. This is one more effort in a long line of environmental initiatives that help Southwest make decisions that will help our Planet and support our business, including electric ground support equipment and renewable energy credits for wind and solar power. We will continue to remain engaged and actively investigating other opportunities that make sense for Southwest. We are committed to being a sustainable Company, and initiatives like this one will help us continue to honor that commitment. Share your Green tips in the comments section! DING! You are now free to be Green.
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My earliest Southwest Airlines memory actually happened before I even worked here. I worked in San Diego at the now-defunct Pacific Southwest Airlines, and was grieving the loss of a family member, who lived in Denver. I needed to get back to Denver in a very short window, so I contacted Southwest in San Diego. Not only did they set me up with a standby ticket home, they went out of their way to comfort me during a sad time. I had known Southwest before then, of course, and leading up to my job in Fuel Management, I actually sold fuel to Southwest. It wasn't until 1991 (you could've guessed that by the title), that I saw my Southwest career take flight. I was actually on a fishing trip when I got a call about an interview, and left the trip at 3:30 AM in order to leave the island I was on, catch a flight to Minneapolis, and make my way to Headquarters in Dallas. I began in fuel purchasing, and I've grown in Fuel Management my entire two decades here at Southwest. I work with the best in the business. Southwest was bigger than I was used to, especially coming from a much smaller outfit. Even in this "Big Company," then-CEO Herb Kelleher would come around once a week just to say hello. I remember the advertising team would also come around, once every couple weeks, to show off our newest commercials. I knew they were coming when I heard the sounds of wheels, and saw the TV sitting atop the rolling stand. The most frequently asked question I get from outsiders is, "How do you keep the Culture?" Easy: hire the right People. It's an evolutionary process to ensure that you're reinvesting in the Culture by hiring for the future. But Southwest never fails to reassure me we have the right people in the right positions. Happy 40th, Southwest!
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