MIAMI – The original Southwest Airlines (WN), founded by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King in 1967 was an intrastate airline serving the Texas cities of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

When airline deregulation legislation was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, WN had an opportunity to flourish to the point that it became the darling of the industry, which many believe it remains today. Southwest was the fourth largest airline in the world in 2019. During its early years, the airline encountered financially lean times, but was profitable for 47 years – until 2020.

In 2020, WN slammed into the COVID-19 wall along with all other airlines. Indeed, just about every form of public passenger transportation (e.g., trains, motor coaches and airlines) saw ruinous financial numbers requiring government assistance, which partially improved the situation.

Southwest’s Q4 2020 net loss was (US$908m), and the annual net loss for the airline was (US$3.1bn).

Southwest Airlines N463WN Boeing 737-7H4. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Chairman’s Comments

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world, and our heart goes out to all those affected. The airline industry was hit especially hard in 2020, and we incurred our first annual net loss since 1972.”

“Our annual 2020 operating revenues declined approximately 60 percent, year-over-year, and we experienced our largest monthly decline in operating revenues in April 2020, down 92 percent, year-over-year, when the pandemic spread and shelter-in-place orders and similar restrictions were implemented throughout the country.”

For more detailed information, please visit WN’s website.

Featured image: Southwest N475WN Boeing 737-7H4. Photo: Brando Farris/Airways