Herb Kelleher is a Founder of Southwest Airlines Co. and served as Executive Chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and as President and CEO from September 1981 through June 2001.
Southwest commenced service with three airplanes in 1971 and in May of 2008, when Kelleher stepped down as Executive Chairman, Southwest operated a fleet of more than 527 airplanes and performed more than 3,400 flights per day. Kelleher’s Company 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.
For the 13th year in a row, FORTUNE magazine recognized Southwest Airlines in its 2009 annual survey of corporate reputations. Southwest Airlines is the only airline to make Fortune’s top 10 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Kelleher himself has received numerous awards and honors, including the U. S. Chamber Business Leadership Hall of Fame; CEO of the Year and one of history’s top three CEOs, Chief Executive magazine; CEO of the Century, Texas Monthly magazine, and many more.