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Tue, May 01, 2012

Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher To Receive Cabot Award

Company Has Been Profitable For 38 Consecutive Years

The coveted Godfrey L. Cabot Award will be presented to Herbert D. (Herb) Kelleher (pictured), founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines at the Harvard Club, Boston, MA, Friday June 8, 2012. Kelleher will receive the award for his dynamic leadership and creative innovation in making Southwest the 5th largest airline in the United States.

Southwest commenced service with three airplanes in 1971 and by May of 2008, operated a fleet of more than 527 airplanes, performing more than 3,400 flights per day.  Southwest has been profitable for 38 consecutive years; has never furloughed an employee; and today carries the most originating domestic passengers of any U.S. airline. 

From its start in 1971 — after overcoming a year's worth of legal challenges from competitors who tried to keep it grounded — Southwest succeeded by offering low fares to its passengers, eliminating unnecessary services and avoiding the "hub-and-spoke" scheduling system used by other airlines. During his tenure as CEO of Southwest, Kelleher's colorful personality created an ‘esprit de corps’ that made Southwest employees well known for taking themselves lightly—often singing in-flight announcements to the tune of popular theme songs—but still taking their jobs seriously.

In Fortune magazine's annual poll, Southwest is consistently named among the top five Most Admired Corporations in America and the only airline to make Fortune’s top 10 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies.

Money magazine revealed that during the 30-year period 1972-2002, Southwest produced the highest return to shareholders of any company included in the S&P 500 during that 30-year period:  $10,000 invested in Southwest in 1972 was worth $10,200,000 in 2002 (an average increase of 25.99% per year).

Herb Kelleher served as Executive Chairman of Southwest from March 1978 to May 2008 and as President and CEO from September 1981 through June 2001. Over the years, Kelleher has received a plethora of awards and honors. He is a graduate from Wesleyan University, where he was an Olin Scholar and from NYU Law School, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar.

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