2019 has been quite a year for Southwest Airlines. From launching flights to Hawaii to managing the 737 MAX worldwide grounding, Southwest weathered challenges and celebrated new milestones. Let’s take a look at 2019 at Southwest Airlines.
The death of Herb Kelleher
2019 started off on a sad note for Southwest Airlines. Well-known co-founder, Herb Kelleher, passed away on January 3, 2019. At 87 years old, he lived a long life and got to see a huge expansion of Southwest Airlines.
To commemorate the remarkable life of Herb Kelleher, Southwest held an event celebrating his life. The low-cost carrier was designed to lower airfare first in Texas, then expanding around the United States. Unfortunately, Mr. Kelleher could not see Southwest expand into Hawaii.
Southwest launched Hawaii flights in 2019
The most famous news-story, by far, from Southwest Airlines in 2019 was the launch of Hawaii flights. After a few successful test flights, the airline put up tickets for sale on March 4 of this year from several destinations from California. With incredibly low fares, these proved immensely popular. From then-on, the airline launched inter-island flights.
From then on, Hawaii saw lower fares to and from the island. Not only does this make the island state a little cheaper to visit, but it also shows the power of Southwest’s low-cost drive. With a loyal passenger following, this was a long-awaited launch for a number of passengers. But then, March had another thing in store for Southwest Airlines
The 737 MAX grounding
After an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash, regulators around the world grounded the aircraft. Overnight, this wiped out almost 7% of Southwest’s capacity. Coupled with a growing operational crisis, this hampered some of Southwest’s growth.
As a result of the grounding, Southwest shared Boeing compensation from the 737 MAX with its employees. Now, the airline is anxiously waiting for the 737 MAX return to service. From then on, the airline can keep expanding, Perhaps, one day, Europe?
Southwest looked at Airbus
The Airbus A220 is the little plane that could. This aircraft can do transcontinental flights, short-haul hops, and everything in between. But, given Southwest’s affinity for the Boeing 737, this news made a huge splash. While Southwest’s board considered Airbus aircraft, the airline never did order the A220 in 2019, airlines rarely write off any plane for future operations.
Southwest Airlines human-interest stories in 2019
In 2019, Southwest Airlines also had some great human-interest stories. First, there was the return of Southwest’s Shark Week. And then, the airline surprised passengers with a Nintendo Switch as part of a promotion for Super Mario Maker 2.
One of the more heartfelt stories of 2019 came from Captain Bryan Knight. The Southwest Airlines pilot got to make one incredibly emotional flight back in August. Captain Knight flew his father’s remains homes after 52 years. Captain Knight’s father passed away in 1967 when his jet was shot down in Vietnam. Then, this August, Captain Knight was able to bring some closure to his family through this very special flight.
2019 worked out quite nicely for Southwest Airlines. Now, 2020 is on the horizon. The airline has plenty to look out for as the next decade begins. Although, it is good to take a moment and reflect on the airline’s impressive growth thus far. Time will tell exactly what Southwest Airlines does next.
What was your favorite story from Southwest Airlines in 2019? Let us know in the comments!