On the heels of Southwest Airlines celebrating our 50th Anniversary, and after 35 years of LUV with my Southwest Family, the time feels right for Southwest to start its next chapter. I have made the decision to relinquish the title of CEO in early 2022. Having celebrated 50 amazing years on June 18, we talked about flipping the page to begin work on the next chapter for Southwest. With that in mind, I’m delighted to announce Executive Vice President Corporate Services Bob Jordan as our next CEO, beginning on Feb. 1, 2022.
Rest assured, I’m not going anywhere, though. I will remain with Southwest through the transition and serve as Executive Chairman, at least through 2026 and at the discretion of the Board. As Executive Chairman, I will focus on business and fleet strategies, Governmental and Airport Affairs, and leading the Board of Directors for Southwest. Also, I will continue to serve as Chairman for Airlines for America.
Succession planning is one of the most important jobs of a CEO, and it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working on with our Board of Directors. I’ve said this before, but it truly feels as if we are at the dawn of a new era as a Company. There is no doubt in my mind that this the right time to announce this transition, and Bob is the right Leader to be Southwest’s next CEO. This will be a transition over many months. And, as I mentioned, once Bob assumes the role in February, I will continue to stay closely connected to the cause that is Southwest Airlines. I have had many blessings in my life; I’m most grateful for my family, and for my Southwest Family. I always have felt a tremendous sense of gratitude to those who came before me. Looking ahead, I am confident in the next generation of Southwest Leaders to continue a great legacy, and I look forward to being along for the ride in my next role.
Gary Kelly (left) and Bob Jordan (right)
So, What About Bob?
He’s a 33-year Southwest veteran, currently serving as our Executive Vice President Corporate Services. Bob and I have worked side-by-side for more than 30 years. He’s a great Leader, is passionate about Southwest and our People, and is well-prepared to take on this important role. Bob and I will work closely with our President Tom Nealon and our Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven to begin developing transition plans in the coming months. We have a powerful Team to lead us forward into the next 50 years. For those who have not met Bob, I am eager for you to get to know him. Bob has a heart of gold who loves and cherishes our beloved Company and our People as much as anyone I know.
In our news release, Bob shared, “I’m humbled, honored, and excited to be asked to serve as the next CEO. The Heart of Southwest is our People; they make the difference for our Customers, and I look forward to serving them. We have a terrific Team of Leaders, many of whom I have had the joy of working alongside for decades. I’m looking forward to working with Gary, Mike, and Tom on the transition effort and setting up Southwest for the next 50 years of giving Customers the Freedom to Fly.”
Southwest Airlines’ Leadership (left to right): Bob Jordan, Mike Van de Ven, Gary Kelly, and Tom Nealon
To learn more about Bob, please enjoy the below Q&A that he shared with our Employees last week.
Q: What does it feel like to be named the future CEO of Southwest Airlines? A: “I feel so many emotions–excited, grateful, humbled, and ready. When I started at Southwest in 1988 as a programmer, I could never have dreamed this could be possible, but at Southwest Airlines, all things are possible. I’m grateful for Gary and the fact that he is staying as Executive Chairman, grateful to the Board for their confidence in me and allowing for the time to transition well and intentionally, and grateful to the wonderful People of Southwest Airlines. This is a big job, and the greatest Company and People in the world, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I have a lot to learn–I’m human, and will make mistakes, but I can promise that you will get my absolute best.” Q: When does the new role go into effect? A: “The role becomes official in February of next year, but I will go to work with Gary and our Leaders quickly to ensure we have a great transition plan and are ready when that time comes. I’m extremely thankful for the group of Leaders we have here at Southwest. I have been blessed to work with most of them for more than a decade, and several for more than 30 years. It’s the most talented, dedicated, Team of Leaders we have ever had and we are ready to lead Southwest into the next 50 years.” Q: What is your vision of the future for Southwest Airlines? A: “I have been blessed to have a very diverse career and set of assignments during my 33 years at Southwest. Gary especially has given me so many opportunities to work in different areas of the Company, as well as the broad leadership role as President of AirTran during the integration, and Gary, Colleen, Herb, Tom, and many, many others mentored and sponsored me along the way. Because of that, I have been part of our strategic planning for a long time, and know that we have a great plan. We have a great plan to continue to emerge from the pandemic, continue to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and restore our financial health. Right now, it’s all about continuing to be nimble, executing, and for me especially, using the next few months to ensure the transition goes really, really well.” Q: What are some of the things you hope to do right away? A: “Change, even the anticipation of change, creates both excitement and uncertainty. Those can be distractions, and as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we need to continue to be laser-focused. I plan to spend considerable time out with our Employees, so that we can get to know each other better, as well as spend time with our Leaders, right away. In addition to traveling, the tools we learned and used in the last year also afford us an opportunity to reach so many People quickly, and communicate frequently and informally.”
Q: What do you expect will be some of your greatest challenges? A: “There are always challenges, there have been during my entire 33-year career at Southwest–intense competition, new airlines, cost pressures, 9/11, gulf wars, high fuel prices, and most vividly, the pandemic. The People of Southwest Airlines, and the Warrior Spirit, never back away from a challenge–as Mike Van de Ven always says, “winners win!” If we can stay focused on the basics, like living our Southwest Way values each and every day, serving each other and our Customers every single day, realizing that change is constant and just a part of life, and always seeing ourselves as the scrappy startup, there is no challenge we can’t overcome, and nothing we can’t do together. It’s going to be a GREAT start to the next 50 years!”
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Once again, Southwest Airlines is among FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired® Companies. What an honor this is, to come through the most difficult year in our history and rank No. 14. And, what a testament to our Employees and their Southwest Spirit.
The Hospitality our Employees provide—from gestures big to small—does not go unnoticed. Our reputation is more than our business performance. It’s directly connected to the Hospitality they provide each and every day.
It’s an honor to be recognized among the most respected Companies in the world year after year. Congratulations to our nearly 58,000 Employees on this recognition, and to the other great companies on the list!
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The year 2021 is a truly significant one for Southwest Airlines—it marks our 50th year of giving travelers the freedom to fly with our low fares and unmatchable Hospitality. Although our current environment looks slightly different than we’ve anticipated for our 50th year, I want to be crystal clear—that difference in no way takes away from the immense pride that our entire Southwest Family, past and present, should have in us reaching this extraordinary milestone. It certainly doesn’t for me. And, in fact, it strengthens it. I’ve never in our history been more proud of our Southwest Warriors.
As with so many things, we’ve had to pivot in order to acknowledge and celebrate our 50th anniversary in appropriate ways. And, we’ve made some logical decisions to pull back from our original plans in order to take advantage of some free and low-cost options, as well as develop plans that allow us to celebrate safely.
But make no mistake, these unpredictable times do not dampen the excitement for our accomplishment of hitting the 50-year mark. All Southwest Airlines Employees, Customers, and friends should be very, very proud.
Throughout the year, we’ll share some of our more compelling and iconic Southwest stories—some may be familiar, and others won't—but each one has played a significant role in our rich and colorful history. And, our hope is that these stories will inspire meaningful contributions to the next 50 years of building the Southwest Airlines legacy. Our history continues to grow with every single flight.
And just as everyone has had to drastically change personal lives, we’ve also had to adapt our airline to operate in a very unique environment. But something that remains solid is the critical role played by every Employee and Customer. Our People are the Heart and soul of our Company, a source of immense pride and joy for me, and will continue to be our greatest competitive advantage. Even with masks on, I can see the spirit and the pride and the smiles for our beloved Company shining through.
And like any good story, ours is full of ups and it has some downs, but it consistently conveys an underlying pride for our many accomplishments, some very special moments, and our incomparable Employees and Customers.
I wouldn’t change much about these past 50 years—because everything that we’ve been through has made Southwest Airlines who we are as a brand, as a Company, and as a Family. And our renowned Culture is five decades in the making and continues to stand out as a shining example to others. And we must continue to nurture it and believe in it.
So stay tuned—our Planning Team has been resilient and extremely cost-conscious, and their creative adjustments to our 50th plans are nothing short of fantastic! And I’ll give you a sneak peek at one component of our 50th year: We’re inviting everyone to put their Hearts in Action to spark and inspire one million Acts of Kindness! What an important and appropriate focus for our 50th year.
And beyond that, I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so I’ll play it safe in this message. I’ll just say for now that surprises should be expected—and I can't wait for everyone to experience them.
So although our 50th year may look a little different, we're still celebrating it with a deep pride and an unwavering joy.
Join us in celebrating our 50th year!
Check out our 50th Anniversary website where you will find stories about the origin of Southwest Airlines, pictures from our rich history, and more. This site will be continually promoted and updated with new stories and resources throughout the year!
Visit Southwest: The Store to shop new 50th-themed merchandise. More great items will be added throughout 2021!
Cheers to our 50th year!
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I’m sure many of you have already heard the exciting news that the COVID-19 economic relief package—which includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program, or PSP—has been signed into law. As I’ve been saying for months, this was always our preferred plan, and it means we can stop the movement toward furloughs and pay cuts that we previously announced. For that, I am most grateful.
The new law will provide payroll support for all Southwest Employees through March 31, 2021.Given this, we currently do not anticipate the need to conduct any furloughs or pay cuts next year.
I’m incredibly thankful for the thousands of Employees (and their loved ones) who used their Warrior Spirit to advocate for the PSP extension with their elected representatives in Congress, presenting impassioned pleas in an effort to save thousands of jobs—not just at Southwest—but across our industry.
I am tremendously grateful for the recognition by federal leaders that the airlines are an indispensable part of the U.S. economy and that the PSP has been a successful program deserving of an extension. I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to several key leaders by name, although this is certainly not an exhaustive list.
First and foremost, everyone who works in the airline industry, including at Southwest, needs to say a special thanks for the efforts of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Since early March and throughout this challenging time, those two leaders, and their staffs, have been effective advocates in making sure the U.S. airline industry and its people did not permanently downsize due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Without those two men, there is no PSP.
Next, neither the CARES Act nor the latest emergency economic relief legislation, nor the provisions addressing airlines, would have been possible without Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, all of whom understood how critically important the airlines are to the economy and the future economic recovery. Support for the airlines was one item they all agreed to, and relatively early in their long and laborious negotiations. Secretary Mnuchin especially has been generous with his time and attention throughout this crisis, and his leadership deserves greater recognition within and beyond the airline industry.
Finally, I need to call out one additional congressional leader who was instrumental in getting this final agreement done: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). When partisan tensions were the highest and paralysis gripped Washington, Senator Collins and a small group of fellow, bipartisan moderates decided to solve the gridlock and present a pathway forward. I specifically call out Senator Collins because I know she made sure the transportation sector, including the airlines and our people, were a central part of the bipartisan emergency relief plan, and then, ultimately, the final economic relief package.
Again, I need to stress that dozens of government leaders are worthy of praise; however, these individuals deserve individual recognition.
With this communication, we are halting all efforts to furlough or reduce Employees’ pay, and officially rescinding the WARN notices, furlough notices, notices of potential impact, and notices of pay reduction for Noncontract Employees that were previously sent.
I’m also extremely grateful that so many of you expressed your willingness to sacrifice to help preserve jobs. This pandemic and its impact on the world, our country, and our industry have required Southwest to move toward actions that we’ve never even considered before in order to save our Company. And, thankfully, as a result of this crucial aid, we can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we will not be forced to follow through with those steps that are so foreign to all of us.
Please note that we are still overstaffed in many areas, so if voluntary time off programs are available in your workgroup, please consider participating whenever they are offered.
I know the battle isn’t over, but we’re resilient, and we’re well prepared to fight so that Southwest emerges stronger than ever, ready to thrive for the next 50 years. And each of you will have played an important part in Southwest’s finest hour.
All together. One Team. All Heart!
Stay Strong. — Gary Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines
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Message from Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
After a thorough and comprehensive review of Boeing’s enhancements to the 737 MAX 8, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued official requirements that enable airlines to return the MAX to service. Southwest is in receipt of the FAA’s directive regarding flight control software updates and additional Pilot training related to the MAX, and we are ready to meet each requirement. There is much work to be done before our MAX aircraft will resume service, which we estimate will likely take place no sooner than the second quarter of 2021. Today, I want to share a few of our thoughts and plans.
First and foremost, there is nothing more sacred to me than the Safety of our Customers and Employees. If we had a cause for doubt of the Safety of our fleet—or any subset of it—simply put, the planes would not fly. That is a moral obligation that I share with my fellow Southwest Family Members who work, fly, and travel with our own families on these aircraft. This is not only our profession, career, and livelihoods—it’s deeply personal to all of us.
Our Southwest Pilot Leadership Team has reviewed and expressed confidence in the MAX software and training updates following Boeing’s enhancements to the aircraft. I have personally been in contact with Boeing and the FAA regarding the changes and have been briefed by our internal experts. Additionally, aviation regulators from countries around the world have reviewed Boeing’s changes to the aircraft and the FAA’s new requirements.
Without getting too technical, we understand that Boeing has made changes to the flight control system that now compares input from two angle of attack sensors as opposed to one; the aircraft only responds if data from both sensors agree and only activates once per event; and Pilots always have the ability to override the aircraft’s input. These changes have been reviewed and approved by the FAA, and, with these enhancements, I am confident we will be ready to operate the MAX in accordance with the FAA’s requirements. I am going to be flying on the MAX before we return the aircraft to service—and the same is true for many other Southwest Leaders.
Before we return the aircraft to customer service, however, every active Southwest Pilot will complete additional FAA-required flight training in one of our nine 737 MAX simulators and will complete additional FAA-required computer-based training covering MAX procedures. Southwest will also require active Pilots to re-take our original 737 MAX 8 computer-based differences training as a refresher to complement the FAA-required training. Additionally, Southwest will conduct multiple readiness flights on each of our 34 MAX aircraft and complete thousands of hours of work, inspections, and the software updates before any of our Customers board a Southwest 737 MAX.
At Southwest, we only operate Boeing 737s, and our Pilots are highly trained and experienced at flying the aircraft. In fact, before the 737 MAX was grounded, Southwest Pilots flew almost 40,000 flights on the aircraft, which is more than 89,000 flight hours. Now, we’ll approach returning the MAX to service with the same commitment to training that we’ve employed for almost 50 years coupled with an uncompromising and unwavering commitment to Safety. For us, it’s a passionate pursuit, and it’s among the most important work of our careers.
Finally, we invite you to visit www.southwest.com/737MAX for more information regarding our plans for returning the aircraft to service. On the site, we feature a video from Senior Vice President of Air Operations Alan Kasher that explains next steps, including the additional Pilot training that will take place before the MAX will return to service. We will continue updating the site with additional information as we move forward. Our goal throughout this process is to be open and transparent with you every step of the way—just as you’ve come to expect from us.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding throughout our upcoming return-to-service process for the 737 MAX. As always, we appreciate your support.
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Southwest Airlines Diversity & Inclusion journey began long before this summer’s increased focus about racial injustice and has always been rooted in our Southwest Way Values: specifically, how we show up individually, how we treat each other, how we work as a Team, and how we will succeed as a Company. Continue reading to learn about Southwest’s commitment to increase diversity in Leadership.
Southwest's Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly shared this video with all Southwest Employees on September 29, 2020.
Southwest Airlines Diversity & Inclusion journey began long before this summer’s increased focus about racial injustice and has always been rooted in our Southwest Way Values: specifically, how we show up individually, how we treat each other, how we work as a Team, and how we will succeed as a Company.
While our diversity imperatives across the years laid a good foundation, we know we must commit to closely focusing in areas like diversity in Senior Leadership and supplier diversity. We continue to look for opportunities to better reflect in our organization the diverse demographics of the communities we serve. Specifically, the Company has set the following goals:
Evolving hiring and development practices to support diversity goals, including posting all open Leadership positions (Supervisor to Vice President) and requiring diverse candidate slates for each role
Measuring progress in increasing diversity in Senior Leadership
Doubling the percentage of racial diversity and increasing gender diversity in Senior Management Committee by 2025
Engaging breadth of community partners to ensure the Company is leveraging those relationships as it sources diverse talent
Additionally, the Southwest Airlines Board of Directors has committed to increasing its diverse representation by 2025.
Pursuing Racial Equity
To continue our commitment to inclusion, the Southwest Airlines Diversity and Inclusion Team has completed workshops with much of the Company’s workforce, thus far, including Flight Attendants, Mechanics and Engineers, Finance Employees, and Pilots, with other conversations planned. These workshops are part of an effort to encourage productive conversations on racial equity. Many workgroups from throughout the Company have initiated dialogue and discussion about these important topics.
The Southwest Airlines’ Diversity Council—comprised of a diverse group of Employees with various job roles, in locations across the country, and with varying levels of experience—was founded more than 10 years ago. It serves as an asset, dedicated to a mission that promotes a work environment that appreciates different backgrounds, experiences, and traditions, while also fostering inclusion, and leveraging diversity to enhance performance and shape Company strategy.
Assisting Communities with Change
Our Community Outreach Team continues visiting with our Community Partners to understand how the Company can support workforce development through talent pipelines. The Southwest Airlines Foundation, a corporate-advised fund within the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, made additional monetary contributions to organizations such as the National Urban League and 100 Black Men in America.
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The killing of George Floyd is a tragedy, and it rightfully has become a national tragedy. It is not just understandable, it is expected that this act has stirred much outrage and grief regarding racism, and worse, hate. The circumstances of his killing—and that of too many other Black Americans—must finally serve as the catalyst to affect real change. We must not tolerate racial injustice; we must not tolerate hate. We must stand for love.
We stand alongside our Black Employees, Customers, and communities whose voices will no longer be silenced. There is plenty of work to be done, but we are committed to doing our part to drive change. Our values, for all People, are based on the Golden Rule. Our Purpose is to connect People to what's important in their lives. What's happening in our nation is extremely important; it is a loud cry for us to listen, to see, and to truly understand. Then, we can and must do better.
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Southwest Airlines operates on the guiding principles of civility and taking care of others with our collective Southwest Heart. As a Company, we have a passion for doing the right thing. With this cornerstone value in mind, today we are reiterating our support of the global efforts to eliminate Human Trafficking by launching online curriculum for all of our Employees.
The purpose of this curriculum is to provide an overview of the crime of Human Trafficking. At the end of the curriculum, our goal is for Employees to better understand what Human Trafficking is, be able to identify Human Trafficking instances, and be prepared to take action, if necessary, if they suspect they have encountered a potential Human Trafficking situation. This commitment is further strengthened by the work of nonprofit organizations Polaris, United against Human Trafficking, and Rethreaded who Southwest proudly supports as they combat Human Trafficking and provide support to survivors.
Southwest partnered with nonprofit organization Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, for the content included in this curriculum. This initial phase of optional curriculum is just the first step on this journey. Beginning in 2020, we will start introducing a second phase of required training for our Customer-facing Employees that will focus on specific processes and procedures related to this issue.
Southwest is stepping up our commitment to fight against Human Trafficking because this issue is prevalent in our industry and taking place in our own backyard. Even members of our own Southwest Family have been impacted by Human Trafficking.
When Heather Norcilus, a Learning Multimedia Developer in our Southwest Airlines University Department, was assigned to develop a Companywide curriculum, she had no idea just how closely the topic would hit to home.
Heather, and many other collaborators across the Company, have worked with Polaris to create a computer-based curriculum focused on identifying Human Trafficking.
This project had an extra personal connection for Heather as one of her friends is a survivor of Human Trafficking. “My friend was promised all these things, put on a plane to Florida, and then it wasn’t anything she had agreed to,” Heather shared. “When you think of Human Trafficking, it’s easy to picture the victims in some far away land, but it’s an issue that happens closer than you think—including places where Southwest serves.”
In this case, Heather’s friend was trafficked out of East Texas. “She was flown to Florida with the promise of money and perks to get out of a rough background, but she was lied to,” said Heather. “As a human I felt stuck; I didn’t know what to do or how to help. But, in the midst of this darkness we can be a light and a voice for those who are trapped.”
Thankfully Heather’s friend has since escaped her situation, but her story is like so many others—many of whom are still in these situations—and makes it clear that this issue can happen anywhere. That is why providing Employees with the resources to help identify and report trafficking and continuing our work with Partners like Polaris is so important to Southwest.
“I am so grateful to work for a Company that is taking important steps toward this major issue, especially because it is so personal for me,” said Heather. “I am excited that this is just the starting point of future awareness and training. I believe all the work everyone is doing is so worth it and the future impact is unmeasurable!”
In recognition of World Day against Trafficking in Persons, I hope you’ll join us in this fight by learning more about this important issue.
Polaris: A leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, Polaris systematically disrupts the Human Trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. Polaris’ comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what they do—helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.
United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT): UAHT is dedicated to ending Human Trafficking through awareness, education, and outreach. This organization identifies those trapped in cycles of exploitation and connects them to direct services. They also educate diverse communities to know and report the signs of Human Trafficking, while uniting the Greater Houston area against this crime.
Rethreaded: Rethreaded is a mindful gift company that provides long-term employment coupled with mental health services to survivors of Human Trafficking in Jacksonville, FL. A Repurpose with Purpose nonprofit partner, Rethreaded's mission is to renew hope, reignite dreams, and release potential for survivors of Human Trafficking locally and globally through business.
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We announced our first quarter results yesterday, and I wanted to provide you with an update on our performance, as well as share with you the status of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
First and foremost, I’d like to start by commending our Employees on their resiliency and perseverance in what was a challenging first quarter on several fronts, including a partial government shutdown, extreme weather throughout the country on an almost weekly basis, and the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft following the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines Flight #302. I also want to thank our Customers for their patience as we’ve worked through revising our schedule.
Despite these challenges, I’m incredibly proud to report that we did indeed prevail, and we produced net income of $387 million, or $.70 a share—just below the year ago amount. That is an incredible result, especially considering the near-record level of cancellations we had to deal with.
Switching gears, I know many of you have been following the developments
surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. On March13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order to ground all Boeing MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines—a decision we supported and complied with immediately. Southwest owns 34 Boeing MAX aircraft, which will remain out of service until the FAA rescinds this order, and we feel confident that all of the necessary actions have been taken to operate the aircraft safely and reliably.
Safety is our top priority. It always has been, and it always will be. Our commitment to the Safety of our Employees and our Customers is uncompromising. As I have said before, if I am not 100 percent confident we can deliver on our commitment to Safety, I would not hesitate to ground our entire fleet—or any segment of it. That would not be a hard decision for me to make.
We are equally committed to offering our Customers and Employees a reliable schedule and operating the best airline we possibly can. With that in mind, we have been revising our schedule to reduce last-minute flight changes and unexpected disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans. Earlier this month, we modified our schedule through August 5, 2019, to add further stability for Customers traveling during this busy summer season.
We simply don’t have a confirmed timeline to share with regard to when the MAX will return to service. There have been dates ranging from May to July depending on who is commenting. We have our schedule adjusted through August 5, and if the aircraft are available to fly earlier, we will use them as additional spares to further enhance the Reliability of our scheduled service.
We remain in constant contact with the FAA, Boeing, and industry regulators, as well as our Employee Unions and industry peers, to prepare for implementation of software updates and additional training that Boeing and the FAA will provide to all operators worldwide. These enhancements will further advance the safe operation of the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft and add yet another layer of Safety, and I am incredibly encouraged by the path forward. I have the utmost confidence in our People, procedures, airplanes, training, maintenance, and performance monitoring systems, enhanced by our data-focused Safety Management System.
The Boeing 737 is the most successful commercial airplane in aviation history. Our Pilots are the best 737 Pilots in the world. No one knows more and no one is better trained. Southwest has one of the best Safety records in our industry throughout nearly five decades, which is a source of pride for me and all of our entire Southwest Family.
Our commitment to Safety is unwavering, and we will never rest in our pursuit to make a safe airline even safer. Once again, thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope to see you onboard very soon.
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The past month has been a very sad and somber time for all of us at Southwest Airlines, and our entire Southwest Family mourns the loss of Jennifer Riordan, who tragically lost her life on April 17 as a Customer on Flight #1380. In response to a 20/20 program about the events surrounding the accident, I welcome the opportunity to share an update with you and emphasize a few key points. First and foremost, my top priority at all times is the Safety and Security of our Employees and Customers—nothing is more important to me or the nearly 60,000 Southwest Family Members. Southwest Airlines has one of the best Safety records of any airline in the world throughout our nearly 48-year history. We are proud of our Safety record, and we work diligently every day to make a safe airline even safer. Once again, I commend our Crew of Flight #1380, our Team in Philadelphia who had the unexpected and very difficult task of serving these Customers, the first responders, the Customers onboard who responded heroically to attempt to save Mrs. Riordan, as well as our entire response Team at Southwest. We are in the early stages of the investigation—cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to find out exactly what happened and why. Due to the NTSB’s guidelines, we are limited in the information we are able to provide during the investigation, and we respect their oversight. As a result of the Flight #1380 accident, we accelerated an existing program by ordering the immediate inspection of all fan blades on the CFM56 engine family. These checks are performed by highly-skilled Southwest Mechanics using ultrasonic techniques. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Mechanics who answered the call and have worked diligently to perform these inspections—they have made us all very proud. We are on track for a mid-May completion date, and we will provide an update upon the completion of the inspections very soon. With a fleet of nearly 750 planes and 4,000 flights a day, we have a rigorous and federally-approved maintenance program, subject to continuous oversight by the FAA and in accordance with CFM’s maintenance guidelines. Our commitment to Safety is uncompromising. It is our highest priority—today and always.
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When I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there are several words that come to mind: civility, equality, respect, love, service, and community to name a few. I’m proud to be a part of a Company that leads with Heart—and even has the letters “LUV” as our NYSE stock symbol. Caring for our People and following The Golden Rule are part of our DNA at Southwest Airlines.
Today is a great reminder of the responsibility we each have to do our part to show kindness to one another and to embrace civility, even in difficult times. It seems like each day in the news I hear about issues that will personally affect our Employees or Customers, and I know that those feelings can sometimes create division.
Dr. King once said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” These are just a few of the many powerful and impactful words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I think they are a great reminder that even though our differences may separate us, love is an incredibly powerful force. We have seen great devastation brought on by natural disasters and senseless violence in recent months, and in the wake of these tragedies, I’ve been humbled by the selfless actions of our Employees and Customers to support—in many cases—people they’ve never even met.
I hope that we can all come together and be reminded today—and every day—of the importance of demonstrating civility to all we encounter.
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I just shared with our Employees at our Spirit Party at Universal Studios: we’re going to Hawaii, baby! That’s right—the day is finally here that we can say we’re going to add some Aloha to our world-famous Hospitality, as Southwest Airlines will soon serve the Hawaiian Islands!
We intend to begin selling tickets in 2018, and while we’re not quite ready to offer our Customers specific schedule or market information, tonight’s announcement is going to be big news within the industry. Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the U.S. transpacific market.
You may have heard us purposefully changing our language ahead of tonight’s announcement to say it’s a matter of when, and not if we serve Hawaii. Why now? We need to take our Extended Operations (ETOPS) work to the next level and gain FAA certification of ETOPS-equipped aircraft in our fleet and establish required operational processes to offer our Customers nonstop service they expect from California to one of the world’s top leisure destinations. The MAX will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we’ll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date. The rest of the work is lined up to bring the performance enhancements of the MAX to what we intend to build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands.
Because this will be big news for the media and our Investors who have also waited for this day, we’ve also posted video of the Employee announcement on swamedia.com, where you’ll also be able to read our news release.
Mahalo to you all as we work to bring America’s Most Loved airline to the shores of Hawaii–and I find it fitting that’s about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S!
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