LONDON – March 2021 marked fifty years of the Southwest Airlines name being in existence, marking a milestone in what has been seen as a low-cost, high-value success story.
This article will look at the history of the carrier over the last fifty years, including how it remains to be the oldest and most popular low-cost carrier in the industry and whether any other airlines in the U.S and around the world could look to adopt such a model during the COVID-19 pandemic.
50 Years of Significant History – A Brief Look
To understand why Southwest has had the success it has, we must briefly look at the history of the carrier and where it started.
Whilst it is the 50th anniversary of the Southwest name, it is actually the 54th birthday of the carrier following the forming of Air Southwest Co being incorporated on March 15, 1967 (SWAMedia, 2021).
For three years, the airline had to fight with the likes of Braniff, Trans-Texas, and Continental Airlines over restraining orders which prevented the carrier from operating (ibid).
Once the courts denied the appeals from Braniff and Texas International, the airline name was changed to Southwest Airlines on March 29, 1971, with Boeing selling three 737-200s to the airline, with the manufacturer carrying “90% of the financing” (ibid).