WASHINGTON – The United States’ Southwest Airlines founder Herbert Kelleher died on Thursday at the age of 87, the company announced in a statement.
“His vision for making air travel affordable for all revolutionized the industry, and you can still see that transformation taking place today,” Southwest Airlines’ CEO Gary Kelly said of Kelleher.
The Dallas-based firm underscored the passion and enthusiasm of Kelleher, who founded the company in 1967 under the name Air Southwest and changed it to the current name in 1971.
Kelly said one of his “greatest joys of my life was having worked alongside Herb for more than 30 years.”
“His legacy extends far beyond our industry and far beyond the world of entrepreneurship. His true impact can only be accurately measured by the hearts and minds of the People who he inspired, motivated, and engaged on a daily basis,” he added.
At the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines had 56,000 employees and reached close to 160 million passengers annually, according to its annual report.