Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines logo
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700
IATA code : WN
ICAO code : SWA
Call sign : SOUTHWEST
Founding: 1967 (as Air Southwest)
Seat: Dallas , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
Turnstile :
Home airport : Dallas
Company form: Corporation
ISIN : US8447411088
IATA prefix code : 526
Management: Gary Kelly ( CEO )
Number of employees: 46,128 (2011)
Sales: US $ 17.80 billion (2012)
Balance sheet total: 14.269 billion US dollars (2009)
(approx. 10.09 billion euros)
Passenger volume: 158 million (2017)
Frequent Flyer Program : Rapid Rewards
Fleet size: 740 (+ 166 orders)
Aims: national

Southwest Airlines is a US low-cost airline based in Dallas .


After the US American Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), which was founded on May 6, 1949 and went bankrupt in 1988, Southwest Airlines is the second low-cost airline in the world and has been generating profits since 1973. Southwest Airlines is currently the world's largest low-cost airline and a pioneer in the low-cost segment. Measured in terms of passengers carried (2019: 163.6 million), it is the largest airline in the world , ahead of Delta Air Lines . Southwest ranks fourth among the top ten most profitable airlines in the world.

The successful Southwest Airlines concept was copied by some airlines, including a. by Ryanair and easyJet . But they are nowhere near the size or sales figures of Southwest.


Southwest Airlines was founded in March 1967 as Air Southwest Inc. by Herbert D. Kelleher and the Texan businessman Rollin King. Due to the strict regulation of domestic American air traffic by the US aviation authority and objections to the start of operations by the major US airlines ( American Airlines , United Airlines , Eastern Air Lines and Delta Airlines ), which dominated the domestic American market at the time, delayed the start of operations of the new airline by four years.

In March 1971, Air Southwest Inc. was renamed Southwest Airlines . On June 18, 1971, flight operations between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio were finally started with three Boeing 737-200s . Home airport has been Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas since 1971 . Until 1978 only cities within the state of Texas were served, from 1979 extensions to Louisiana , New Mexico , Oklahoma , Arizona , Nevada and California followed .

In January 2005 the last of the former 55 Boeing 737-200Adv. (Deliveries from 1971 to 1985) decommissioned, various machines were parked and still held in reserve. In February 2005 the airline received its 200th Boeing 737-700.

On March 12, 2008, the airline decommissioned 41 aircraft from its fleet. Southwest is accused of breaching security regulations. This was preceded by a fine of $ 10.2 million imposed on the company by the FAA for failing to check 46 machines for material fatigue as requested.

In the fall of 2010, Southwest took over the competitor AirTran for 1.4 billion US dollars.

Passenger cabin of a Southwest Boeing 737-700

In late 2018, Southwest announced that it would offer flights between California and 4 airports in Hawaii . The ETOPS certification required for this is expected to be achieved in spring 2019, and several test flights to Kailua-Kona and Hilo have already been completed. Scheduled flights are to take place from April 2019.


Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800

As of May 2020, the Southwest Airlines fleet consists of 740 aircraft with an average age of 12.1 years:

Aircraft type number ordered Remarks Seats Average age
Boeing 737-700 499 143 15.8 years
Boeing 737-800 207 175 4.7 years
Boeing 737 MAX 7 30th - open -
Boeing 737 MAX 8 34 136 Delivery since August 2017;
since March 13, 2019 all inactive
175 2.2 years
total 740 166 12.1 years

To this day, the airline sticks to the Boeing 737 and maintains the world's largest Boeing 737 fleet with over 700 new and purchased aircraft to date. In the period from December 1997 to December 31, 2004, 193 Boeing 737-700s were put into service. Further machines of this type are firmly ordered. Southwest Airlines is also the first customer of the Boeing 737-300 (in service since November 1984), the Boeing 737-500 (in service since May 1990) and the Boeing 737-700 (in service since December 1997). All Boeing 737-700s of the 1997 to 2002 delivery series have been retrofitted with winglets since 2004 ; the machines delivered from 2003 already have these upon delivery.

1971–1972 the fleet consisted of three Boeing 737-200s (N20SW – N22SW). Used came from 1979 to 1980 and one of Braniff leased Boeing 727 -200 and 1983-1984 two leased 727-200 of People Express Airlines . In 1980 the fleet comprised one Boeing 727-200 (leased) and 21 Boeing 737-200Adv., In 1986 already 46 Boeing 737-200Adv. and 16 Boeing 737-300s.

On August 29, 2017, Southwest Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 .

Color schemes

A Southwest Boeing 737-300 in the paint scheme from 1971 to 2001
A Southwest Boeing 737-300 in the special livery "Lonestar One"
1971 to 2001

ocher or sand-colored, fuselage underside red, vertical tail unit ocher, red, orange with white lettering "SOUTHWEST"


canyon blue, fuselage underside red, vertical stabilizer blue, red, orange with yellow lettering "SOUTHWEST", the entire fleet was repainted by the end of 2008, but three Boeing 737-700s (N711HK, N714CB and N792SW) continued to fly in the old colors to remind of the original Texas triangle cities of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. This was also continued with the color variant from 2014-present.


Southwest Airlines announced a new design on September 8, 2014. The underside of the fuselage is blue, the tail fin (unbranded) yellow, red and blue. The name is in a modified font above the windows on the fuselage.

Special paints

Several Southwest Airlines aircraft have been given special paintwork:

Surname Machinery) Painting since description
"Shamu" 737-300 (N334SW)
737-700 (N713SW)
737-700 (N715SW)
Orca paint advertising SeaWorld
"Lone Star One" 737-300 (N352SW) November 7, 1990 Texas' flag
"Arizona One" 737-300 (N383SW) May 23, 1994 Flag of Arizona
"California One" 737-300 (N609SW) August 11, 1995 California flag
"Silver One" 737-300 (N629SW) June 14, 1996 Originally unpainted, later painted in silver for the company's 25th anniversary.
"Triple Crown One" 737-300 (N647SW) June 9, 1997 Special livery in honor of winning the Triple Crown Prize
"Nevada One" 737-700 (N727SW) June 2, 1999 Flag of Nevada
"New Mexico One" 737-700 (N781WN) September 18, 2000 Flag of New Mexico
"Maryland One" 737-700 (N214WN) June 13, 2005 Maryland flag
"Slam Dunk One" 737-700 (N224WN) November 3, 2005 Basketball face paint
"Illinois One" 737-700 (N918WN) April 15, 2008 Illinois' flag
"Florida One" 737-700 (N945WN) April 23, 2010 Florida flag

Basic data

The headquarters of Southwest in Dallas

Passengers carried:

year Passengers
1973 000.5 million
1986 013.5 million
1998 052.5 million
2003 065.4 million
2004 070.9 million
2005 088.4 million
2006 096.3 million
2007 101.9 million
2008 101.9 million
2009 086.0 million
2010 106.2 million


Southwest Airlines Flight 1248
  • A Boeing 737 coming from Baltimore (Maryland) on Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 with 103 people on board came off the runway at Chicago Midway Airport on December 8, 2005 in heavy snowstorms. She broke through the airport fence and only came to a stop on a busy road. Apart from a few minor injuries, no one was injured in the aircraft, but the machine buried a car under it, as the nose wheel broke off during the unsuccessful landing in addition to an engine. In that car sat a family of five whose son was killed. The American traffic safety authority (NTSB) spoke in an initial reaction of difficult, but nevertheless acceptable conditions at the airport when the aircraft landed.
  • Delayed examinations of 46 Boeing 737-300s based on an airworthiness directive of the FAA from 2007 on material fatigue of this type found corresponding cracks in six of these aircraft. In the nine months between the FAA instruction and the 2008 belated investigation, all 46 of this type made over 60,000 flights for Southwest. Southwest Airlines was fined $ 10.2 million for these neglected investigations and the high risk involved.
  • On July 13, 2009, a Boeing 737-300 of the airline with 131 people on board had to make an emergency landing in Charleston, West Virginia, after a hole the size of a football was torn in the roof of the cabin in flight. No people were injured in the incident on Southwest Airlines Flight 2294 from Nashville to Baltimore. The hole was torn in the roof roughly in the middle of the aircraft cabin for a still unexplained cause, causing a pressure drop.
  • For similar reasons, a Boeing 737 coming from Phoenix with 118 people on board had to make an emergency landing on April 1, 2011 at a military airfield near Yuma . The reason for this was the falling pressure in the cabin after part of the aircraft's outer shell came off and a hole up to two meters in size could be seen in the roof of the aircraft. The Southwest Airlines Flight 812 was en route to Sacramento .
  • On July 22, 2013, a 737-700 coming from Nashville, Tennessee, the Southwest touched down at La Guardia Airport in New York City, where the front landing gear broke off and the Boeing was damaged in the subsequent braking process. Eight people on board were injured during the evacuation.
  • On April 17, 2018, one of the CFM56 engines failed on flight WN1380 from New York LaGuardia to Dallas . The engine casing was destroyed by flying metal parts, the wing, the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 and a cabin window were damaged. One passenger died after being partially sucked out through the broken window, and seven other passengers were injured. The machine was landed in Philadelphia without further incident by Captain Tammie Jo Shults , a former fighter jet pilot in the US Navy .

See also


  • AERO International , No. 9/2017, pp. 16–23
  • BI Hengi: Airlines Worldwide , 9th updated edition from 2018, Nara, ISBN 978-3-925671-69-2 , p. 290

Web links

Commons : Southwest Airlines  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Southwest Airlines Co. financials
  2. Top 10: The ten largest low-cost airlines in the world (as of August 2007)
  3. The largest airlines in the world are two European low-cost airlines., July 26, 2019.
  4. Top10: The ten largest airlines in the world by profit (as of August 2007)
  5. Spiegel Online low-cost airline pulls dozens of planes out of service (March 12, 2008)
  6. - Low-fare king Southwest to buy AirTran for $ 1.4 billion (English) September 28, 2010
  8. ^ Southwest Airlines Fleet Details and History. In: May 2, 2020, accessed on May 2, 2020 .
  9. - Orders and Deliveries (English), accessed on May 4, 2015
  10. Sebastian Steinke: Southwest takes over their first 737 MAX. Flugrevue, accessed on August 30, 2017 .
  11. New dress for the super-cheap airline. from, accessed September 9, 2014.
  12. Aero . No. 5 , 2008, p. 50 .
  13. Hole in the fuselage - machine has to make an emergency landing ( memento from July 17, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) July 14, 2009.
  14. Hole in the cabin roof forces US aircraft to make an emergency landing ( Memento from April 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) April 2, 2011
  15. ^ Accident: Southwest B737 at New York on Jul 22nd 2013, nose gear collapse on landing. on, July 23, 2013 (English).
  17. Damage to aircraft engine - forced landing in Philadelphia. (No longer available online.) April 17, 2018, formerly in the original ; accessed on April 17, 2018 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  18. Southwest # WN1380 Suffered serious uncontained engine failure mid-air (video). In: April 17, 2018, accessed April 17, 2018 .