Southwest Airlines has honored the State of Florida with the unveiling of Florida One, a Boeing 737-700 emblazoned with an artist’s rendering of the state flag.
The airline’s top leadership celebrated the tribute to the State of Florida at an April 23 event in a Tampa International Airport hangar with National Wildlife Refuge Association President Evan Hirsche, and Southwest’s Florida-based employees.
“We are thrilled to honor Florida with this beautiful aircraft; it is truly a demonstration of our dedication to Florida and a tribute to our more than 2,500 hard-working Florida employees,” says Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman, president and CEO . “Our pride for Florida will fly high over the 68 cities Southwest serves.”
Since beginning service to Florida in January of 1996, Southwest Airlines has grown from 17 daily nonstop departures to 284 daily nonstop departures. Southwest now carries 20 per cent of all air traffic to the state of Florida. Southwest Airlines will begin service to its seventh Florida city, Panama City Beach (with Southwest starting operations to the brand-new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport), on May 23.
More than 200 Southwest Airlines employees and community leaders celebrated the unveiling today at Tampa Airport. Following the unveiling event in Tampa, the aircraft began a tour of the airline’s Florida cities. At each stop, the airline hosted a celebratory event in the Southwest gate area to display the aircraft to employees and customers.
“Florida is proud to have such a strong Southwest Airlines presence in Florida,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “Not only is Southwest employing thousands of talented Floridians, but is also making Florida more easily accessible and affordable for visitors. I am grateful for their continued commitment to Florida.”
For the occasion, Southwest Airlines also lowered its Florida fares. The airline launched a southwest.com-only fare sale through 11:59 p.m. PDT Monday, April 26, 2010, for travel Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from May 11 through June 23, 2010. Fares started at $49 one-way plus taxes for select intra-Florida travel and the airline offered other discounted fares for travel into or out of the Sunshine state. To see the list of markets and fare-sale prices, visit www.southwest.com.
Florida One joins 13 other Boeing 737s in Southwest’s fleet that carry a unique paint scheme: Arizona One; California One; Illinois One; Lone Star One (Texas); Nevada One; New Mexico One; Maryland One; three Shamu aircraft (SeaWorld); Silver One (celebrating Southwest’s 25th anniversary); Triple Crown One (recognizing Southwest’s top rankings for ontime performance, baggage handling, and customer satisfaction); and Slam Dunk One (a tribute to Southwest’s NBA partnership).
Because of its special livery, the latest special-theme 737 required 32 people at the Boeing Company working three shifts over the course of eight days to paint. More than 46 gallons of paint and 16 different colors make up Florida One.
Southwest Airlines is the largest intra-state carrier in Florida, carrying 46 per cent of all intra-Florida airline traffic. Southwest began service in Florida in 1996, opening two cities on the same day: Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Tampa Bay. Orlando opened on April 7 of the same year. Jacksonville followed in 1997; West Palm Beach in 2001, and Ft. Myers/Naples in 2005.
Southwest Airlines is the United States’ largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, currently serving 68 cities in 35 states (Panama City Beach, Florida becomes its 69th destination, on May 23). Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,200 flights a day and has nearly 35,000 employees systemwide.