Mar 15, 1999
ISLIP, NEW YORK—March 15, 1999—Southwest Airlines celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little early today as the carrier inaugurated new service on Long Island at MacArthur Airport. A traditional Irish processional, complete with bagpipers and shamrocks, proclaimed the arrival of the low-fare carrier.
"We can honestly say that Southwest Airlines is lucky to be on Long Island," said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief financial officer. "We hope to become the Long Island traveler’s four-leaf clover for low fares, frequent flights, ontime performance, and positively outrageous service."
Southwest began the new service March 14 with 12 daily nonstop flights to four cities: eight daily flights to Baltimore/Washington, two flights to Chicago Midway, one flight to Nashville, and one flight to Tampa Bay. The airline also offers direct or connecting service to 29 other cities across the country.
The nation’s leading low-fare carrier, Southwest brings long-awaited discount fares to Long Island travelers. Southwest offers a $65 one-way unrestricted fare between Islip and Baltimore/Washington, a 54 percent savings over the $140 fare offered by other airlines at MacArthur Airport. This fare is not an introductory offer—it is available on every seat, every flight, every day between MacArthur Airport and Baltimore/Washington.
"As the Irish saying goes, ‘The best way to keep loyalty in a man’s heart is to keep money in his purse,’" Kelly said, "and Southwest will be loyal to Long Island travelers for many years to come."
The morning’s celebration began with a team of bagpipers leading a processional through the gate area for the inaugural ceremony. Kelly was joined by Islip Town Supervisor Pete McGowan, Islip Town Board members, U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, and other officials. As Southwest’s inaugural flight taxied to the gate, Kelly and McGowan announced the arrival by breaking apart a giant four-leaf clover.
Onboard the inaugural flight as it departed for Baltimore/Washington were fifth-graders from John Pearl Elementary in the Connetquot school district on Long Island. Southwest Airlines treated them to a "flying field trip," including a visit to the National Aquarium and Ft. McHenry, the inspiration for The Star Spangled Banner.
Southwest will operate its quietest aircraft, the Boeing 737-700, from MacArthur Airport. Southwest was the launch Customer for the –700 in 1997 and will take delivery of 28 more of the new aircraft during the remainder of 1999. The airline’s fleet totals 284 Boeing 737s with an average age of 8.4 years, one of the youngest pure jet fleets in the domestic airline industry.
Southwest Airlines is the fourth largest domestic carrier in terms of Customers boarded. With the addition of service to Islip, Southwest serves 53 cities in 27 states with more than 2,400 daily flights. Southwest recently announced it will add Raleigh-Durham, N.C., beginning June 6, increasing its nationwide network of destinations.
Southwest Airlines, which currently employs more than 27,000 workers, has been included in Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America two years in a row. In 1999, the magazine ranked Southwest as the number four company to work for in America. Southwest topped the list in 1998.
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