Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Category : Airlines / Posted on: January 16, 2023 / Author: Admin

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is a well-known name in the United States. It was founded in late 1960s. Since then, it has grown to be one of the most important airlines in the world. This is Southwest Airlines' history.

A Texan carrier

In 1967, Southwest Airlines was founded. Herb Kelleher was the founder of. He had planned to fly between San Antonio and Dallas as well as Houston. This was 11 years prior to the deregulation in the airline industry.

Kelleher and Rollin Kings first drew the model in San Antonio's hotel bar in 1967. Original plan was drawn in triangles on a cocktail napkin. This illustration represented the link between the Texan cities San Antonio, Houston, Dallas.

The Civil Aeronautics Board, (CAB), supervised the market regulations in the country during this period. Some of these regulations did not apply if an airline was a Texas-based operator. Southwest would therefore be able set lower ticket prices and compete with potential rivals.

Braniff, Trans Texas and Continental Airlines were initially opposed to Southwest's operations. The case reached the Texas Supreme Court. On December 7, 1970, the Supreme Court ruled in favour Southwest. At the time, Air Southwest was called Southwest.

Air Southwest was renamed Southwest Airlines in 1971. Boeing also offered to sell Southwest three 737-220s. Southwest accepted. Texas International (previously Trans Texas), and Braniff still had issues with Southwest Airlines, and tried to stop the airline from operating.

The Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulates the US civil aviation market, dismissed all complaints. The two airlines turned to Texas courts. However, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favour Southwest Airlines.

On June 18, Southwest flew its first flight with six roundtrips from Dallas (DAL), to San Antonio (SAT), and 12 between Dallas and Houston, (IAH). The cost of one-way tickets was as low as $20 or $126 today.

Southwest began flying hourly between Dallas-Houston with 14 roundtrips, and every-other-hour between Dallas-San Antonio for seven roundtrips. Inaugurating flights between Houston and Hobby (HOU), the airline completed the Texas triangle.

Leading up to deregulation

Southwest and Braniff began a "$13 Fare War" in 1973. Braniff offered $13 fares between Dallas-Houston - Southwest's only profitable route at that time - in an attempt to reduce competition. Southwest responded with a $13 base fare and a $26 full-fare ticket that included a premium liquor bottle.

For two months, Southwest was the largest Texas distributor of premium liquors such as Chivas, Crown Royal and Smirnoff during this fare war. The airline made its first annual profit in 1973. The airline still had only three Boeing737s within its fleet.

Love Field was shut down during this period. However, Southwest fought for the right to remain at the airport which is still a major hub for its operations.

The airline started service to the Rio Grande Valley by flying to Harlingen. Soon after, it added its fifth 737 and was listed on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "LUV". The rights to expand the airline to Austin (AUS), Corpus Christi, El Paso (ELP), Lubbock (LBB) and Midland (MAF) were granted in 1976. Southwest owned ten aircraft by 1977, all 737s.


Southwest wanted to expand after deregulation. Southwest was granted traffic rights between HOU (New Orleans) and MSY (Houston). It also began service to Amarillo, (AMA). The airline continued to grow by placing more Boeing 737 orders. In 1978, Southwest Airlines and Braniff declared that they had resolved their differences. Braniff even leased a Boeing727-200 to Southwest - the only non737 aircraft the airline has ever operated. The airline least another two 727s for one year in 1983. Two more 727s were added in 1984.

The Wright Amendment was introduced at the end of 1979. This would restrict interstate service from Love Field to Texas-bordering states. This was done to divert traffic to Dallas/Fort Worth International, which Southwest refused to move.

The airline opened services from Dallas-Love to Tulsa, Oklahoma City (OKC), or Albuquerque. The airline was still focused on growth and returned to Houston (IAH), offering complimentary cocktails on select flights and inflight contests.

Southwest approached Boeing in 1981 and expressed interest in buying ten new 737 300s. There were also options to purchase ten more if Boeing developed the aircraft. The 737 Classic series was eventually developed by Boeing, and Southwest purchased ten of them that year.

Southwest Airlines had 37 aircraft in total by 1982.

Southwest began retrofitting its jets with leather interiors and earth tones at the end 1983. It had 46 aircraft in its fleet by now.

Additional growth was seen in the 1980s

Southwest Airlines' first Boeing 737-3300 was flown in 1984. It would be the first time the aircraft had flown since the Wright Brother's flight on December 17, 1984, which was 81 years ago. The Southwest jet was appropriately named "Kitty Hawk".

Southwest Airlines began flying out of St. Louis (STL), and Chicago-Midway (MDW) in 1985. The airline also added ski-season flights from Jackson Hole to its Phoenix (PHX) flights. Southwest also returned five 727-200s that it had previously operated in the same year with more 737300s joining the fleet.

In 1985, Southwest also announced that it would acquire Muse Air and combine it with a wholly owned subsidiary. 1986 saw the transformation of Muse Air into Tran Star.

Southwest experimented with different ticket prices throughout the 1980s. Southwest would offer Senior Citizens which allowed older Americans to purchase tickets for $25 one way. Several routes will also receive low-fare offers. Southwest would, however, offer companion fares for select flights.

The airline was approaching its 16th anniversary in 1987 and executives were still thinking about expansion. Southwest announced in May that it was ordering 20 122-seat Boeing 737-500s, with the option to order another 20. These would be added to the fleet of 737-300s that Southwest already has. The airline launched "The Company Club" in June. This frequent flyer program rewarded passengers based upon the number of trips they took.

In 1987, Southwest's Tran Star subsidiary, which was owned 100% by Southwest, ceased operation and went into liquidation.

Southwest received high customer satisfaction scores throughout the 1980s. They had few complaints and a good record of on-time delivery. As the carrier grew and added new destinations every year, this was a testament to its success.


In early 1990, Southwest launched its first Boeing 737 500. It was billed by Southwest as the most advanced and quietest aircraft on the planet at that time. The airline also added a Boeing 737 500, its 100th aircraft, in May 1990.

The early 1990s were devoted to growth. The airline launched services to Baltimore, which is now the largest airline operating base. It also grew strongly in the Midwest as well as the West Coast.

Southwest Airlines had 224 aircraft in its fleet by 1995 and was well-known in the United States. Southwest continued its upward trend of the past decade and maintained high customer satisfaction.

Southwest continued to expand into the southeast United States in 1996 with new flights from Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

The airline was also renamed "The Company Club", to become the now-famous "Rapid Rewards." In 1996, Southwest Airlines introduced the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa Card.

The Shelby Amendment was enacted by Congress in 1997. This amendment to the Wright Amendment allowed Dallas-Love flights to be expanded to Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas. In 1997, Southwest also accepts its first Boeing 737-707 Next Generation. This airline is the initial customer of the type.

As it expanded on the East Coast, Southwest added 300th Boeing 737s to its fleet. In 1999, it also added services from North Carolina and Connecticut. The carrier flew more than 840,000 flights in 1999, with 312 aircraft on its fleet.

The 2000s; after 9/11

Southwest purchased 94 new 737 Next-Generation aircraft in 2000 to complement the 74 jets it already had. Additionally, the airline retained options for more than 190 aircraft.

Southwest looked strong in 2001. Southwest continued to grow strong and expand while also planning for the future through a succession plan. Then came 9/11 and the downturn of aviation.

The expansion of the airline was slightly lower than in 2002. The airline still had a fleet of 375 aircraft and carried more than 60 million passengers. The airline flew more than 65 million passengers to Philadelphia in 2003 with 388 aircraft. Southwest had 400 aircraft in its fleet in 2004.

Southwest exceeded the 3,000 daily flight mark in 2005 and flew over 200 flights out of Las Vegas every day - making it the largest airline at that time. In 2005, Southwest launched a major campaign to repeal the Wright Amendment, giving it more freedom to fly into and out of Dallas Love, the original home of the carrier. Missouri was the only exception.

Denver (DEN), opened its doors in 2006. is still a major base for the airline. In 2006, Southwest was awarded a victory with the Wright Amendment Reform Act. It was not an absolute repeal but the airline could sell tickets and offer one-stop direct flights throughout its entire system starting at Dallas Love Airport, one of the most important bases. The Wright Amendment was scrapped in 2014.

The airline had 88 million passengers flying in a single year aboard 520 Boeing 737 aircraft.

Southwest was primarily a domestic airline at this time. But passengers wanted to travel internationally. The airline was granted the permission to establish a codeshare agreement with Westjet, Canada's airline. The airline continued its expansion to major markets with the addition of flights to New York-LaGuardia in 2009.

AirTran and AirTran merged

Southwest announced in September 2010 that it would acquire all AirTran common stalks, thereby acquiring the carrier. Southwest also announced plans to offer WiFi aboard its fleet the following month.

As the Department of Justice (DOJ), reviewed the merger, Southwest continued to merge with AirTran. The pilots of Southwest and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), reached an agreement on Southwest's transition plan for merging AirTran's operations into their own. In 2011, Southwest celebrated its 40th birthday.

Southwest was granted permission by the Department of Transportation (DOT), to fly international flights in 2011. AirTran would fly from Cabo San Lucas to Cancun and Mexico City to Mexico. San Antonio and Orange County are the primary gateways to Mexico for flights.

Modernizing the airline


Southwest was the launch customer of the Boeing737 MAX in 2011. Southwest Airlines is the largest customer and operator of the aircraft. The airline had 698 aircraft and more than 100 million passengers.

Southwest and AirTran were approved by the FAA for one operating certificate on March 1, 2012. This was an important step in the integration of both airlines. Southwest received its first Boeing 737-880 a week later and displayed it on March 21st.

After examining its plans forward, the airline decided to let go AirTran's Boeing717s. Delta Air Lines subleased all 88 717s to Southwest, which left Southwest with a fleet of 737s.

Southwest's international services came from AirTran. However, Southwest was primarily focused on its domestic market before it acquired AirTran. In 2014, Southwest launched its first international service from Baltimore to Aruba. The airline has since expanded its services to include Central America and the Caribbean.

The last AirTran Airways revenue flight, Flight 1 (AirTran Airways Revenue Flight 1), left Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson on December 29, 2014 bound for Tampa International Airport.

Southwest was the first North American airline to receive a Boeing 737 MAX 8 on August 30, 2017. The plane was put into service on October 1, 2017 on flight #1 between Dallas and Houston. The airline's last Boeing 737-3300 was retired less than a month later.

Southwest has added Hawaii to its route network in 2019, a part that had been missing for a while. This carrier has so far had success on the market.

Industry crises

After two fatal crashes, the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in 2019. Southwest, one of the largest MAX customers, was faced with significant operational challenges as a result. In the following year, services were further disrupted by the pandemic, which led to ongoing social restrictions that forced many US airlines to cancel flights. The company suffered a loss of $3.1 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19. The company had to report its first annual loss for 48 years.

However, 2021 was a better year for Southwest. The restrictions began to loosen and Southwest's MAXs started flying again in March. After reporting its first quarterly profit for two years, the airline ended the year with a profit of $1 million.

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