herb kelleher, the co-founder of southwest airlines, has passed away
Herb Kelleher, who co-founded the US low-cost airline in 1967, peacefully passed away on 3rd January.
Under his leadership, Southwest adopted a 'low cost' model which had never been introduced by any other airline. With this model, passengers who chose to not check in a bag or have food and drink on the flight could get a cheaper ticket. Kelleher also made use of smaller airports located near big cities, such as Love Field airport in Dallas instead of the main Fort Worth airport, which had lower operating costs, mean he could charge less for tickets.
This was a great success and Southwest rose to become the US's fourth largest airline, and the world's largest low cost airline. It still holds both titles today.
Whilst today Southwest has removed charges for checked bags and drinks, Kelleher's revolutionary model has been adopted by hundreds of airlines around the world. Europe's two largest airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, are both low-cost carriers.
The model has been so successful that several legacy airlines, like American Airlines and British Airways, have even been forced to change their short-haul flights into low-cost flights, however this has seen varying levels of success.
Without low-cost flights, we may still be stuck in the early 1960s when it comes to flying. Before Southwest was launched, flying was seen as a privilege, and could only be afforded by the elite. However, the introduction of a cheaper option has allowed more people to travel to thousands of destinations around the world.
Our thoughts are with Kelleher's family and friends.