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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The Safety and well-being of our Employees and Customers, and all of our neighbors, families, and friends in the communities we serve, has always been our top priority. Never has that duty to serve been clearer than it is now. That is why we are making several changes to many of our procedures to employ stringent cleaning and Safety practices to support the health and wellness of our Employees and Customers. We’re calling this the Southwest® Promise. Our Southwest Promise includes using electrostatic anti-microbial spray treatments and disinfectants, cleaning aircraft between each flight, limiting the number of Passengers onboard, and changing our boarding process to promote personal space.
Learn more about the Southwest Promise and what it means when you are ready to travel.
Collectively, at Southwest Airlines, we consider our work to be more than a career; it’s a calling. Yes, this current challenge is unlike any we’ve faced before, but we are battle-hardened, and we are resilient. We will approach it as we have many other challenges throughout our nearly five decades: with our Southwest Hearts, and with a determination to provide our Customers with the utmost care and assistance.
Like you, we feel extreme gratitude for those who are serving on the frontlines of this pandemic. And from our own frontlines to our back offices, we share an immense pride in the service we’re providing to our Customers for whom travel is essential right now. Our sense of responsibility cannot be understated. In the future, we are committed to reconnecting our Customers to the people and places they love. So as we warmly await your return, we add the Southwest Promise to a nearly 50-year commitment of unmatched Hospitality and an unwavering focus on Safety.
We are here to help you move through this new way of travel with the same warmth, care, and reliability you expect from us—today and every day. From check-in to deplaning, our focus is and always will be taking care of you and our Employees.
Stay Heart Strong,
Gary and our 60,000 Employees
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As we continue to navigate our way through this unprecedented time and deal with extraordinary challenges, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated on the steps we are taking to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health, Safety, and well-being of our Customers and our Employees remain my highest priorities at all times and a responsibility the entire Southwest® Family holds sacred. In this midst of the heartbreak and hardships this crisis has imposed on our neighbors, our families, and our friends, I am also inspired and deeply moved by the compassion, resiliency, and the human spirit that has surfaced all around us. Thank you for being there with us. We are here for you.
We’ve been working around the clock to adapt to this new landscape, to adjust our procedures and policies to take care of our Customers, keep our operation running, and maintain a clean and comfortable cabin environment. I know many of our Customers have questions and concerns regarding your travel funds and tier status. We previously extended travel funds that are impacted due to the pandemic to give you more time to use them. I’m pleased to report that we are making some additional changes:
Tier Status & Companion Pass Benefits
For our current A-List and A-List Preferred Members, we are extending your current earned status through December 31, 2021.
For our current Companion Pass Members, we are extending your current earned Companion Pass benefits through June 30, 2021.
For all Rapid Rewards® Members, we recognize that your normal flying behavior has been interrupted, limiting progress you may have been making toward qualification for A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass. For that reason, we are giving all Rapid Rewards Members a “boost” of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status.
These moves represent additional ways to either work toward or to use these benefits once you’re ready to begin traveling again. These adjustments will happen automatically and will be reflected in your Southwest Rapid Rewards My Account page over the coming weeks. Learn more on the extension and the boost by visiting Southwest.com/RRcoronavirusupdates.
Previously, Customers’ travel funds that have expired or would have expired between March 1 – June 30, 2020, or travel funds that were created because of a cancellation between March 1 – June 30, 2020, had an expiration date of June 30, 2021. We are now expanding the window of funds eligible for extended expiration dates and extending the expiration date of these funds. Funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020, and September 7, 2020, will have an expiration date of September 7, 2022. This gives Customers who had travel funds created in connection with this pandemic—or who won’t be comfortable traveling this summer—additional time to retake that same trip or explore a different destination. It will take our Technology Team a few days to make these changes and more details on this extension can be found here.
Additionally, we have added a new benefit for our valued Rapid Rewards Members. Those Members who have travel funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020, and September 7, 2020, will have the option to convert those travel funds into Rapid Rewards® points at the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today. We hope this provides our Members ultimate flexibility as Rapid Rewards points never expire, never have cancel or change fees (fare difference may apply), and you can redeem your points for anyone you choose. Our Technology Team is working to build this conversion capability, and we will be in touch when it is ready for you to use. In the meantime, you don’t need to take any action—your travel funds will be automatically extended for the two years mentioned above, and you will be able to make this conversion once we bring this new functionality to fruition.
We ask for your patience as we implement these benefits and new exceptions. It’s our hope that the policy changes above bring you more comfort and confidence that we will be here, ready to serve you, when you’re ready to travel.
In addition to the changes we have made to our policies, we’re continuing to modify the way we operate and serve you—from enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing guidelines, onboard service offerings to limit personal contact, providing more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our Employees, and much more. You can learn about these efforts on our Travel Advisory and here on the Southwest Community.
No doubt, this has been an incredibly challenging environment for us all, but we’ve been uplifted and found special meaning in the term “essential travel.” From transporting medical professionals to hospitals and hotspots around the country, to partnering with organizations to ship important cargo and medical supplies, to serving Customers on their way to see loved ones and lend a helping hand—there is so much good that has filled our hearts with pride—every day on every flight.
Today and every day, we’re committed to reconnecting you to the people and places you love. We’re in this together. Thank you for your patience as we navigate through these changing times.
Stay Heart Strong,
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Our Hearts beat stronger than ever in this most challenging time. Because today and every day, we’re committed to supporting our Southwest Family and our beloved Customers with heartfelt Hospitality—no matter what comes our way. We are #SouthwestHeartStrong.
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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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