Southwest Co-Founder Rollin King Dies at 83

By Paul Riegler on 29 June 2014
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Southwest planes in Seattle

Southwest planes in Seattle

Rollin W. King, a co-founder of Southwest Airlines, died Thursday in Dallas, Texas. He was 83 and had suffered a stroke one year ago.

King was a pilot and Harvard Business School graduate who first proposed the idea of what was to became Southwest in 1967. At the time, the cost of airfare was regulated by the federal government, as were schedules and routes, but this did not apply to intra-state flying. He and co-founder Herbert D. Kelleher launched Southwest in 1971 with low-cost fares for routes linking Dallas to San Antonio and Houston. A third route, San Antonio-Houston started later that year.

The airline expanded to routes outside of Texas after deregulation of the industry in 1978. Today, Southwest is one of the world’s largest airlines, with $17.7 billion in revenue in 2013.

King remained a Southwest employee until 1978 – his last position was that of a pilot – and served on the company’s board of directors until 2006.

“His idea to create a low cost-low fare, better-service-quality airline in Texas subsequently proved to be an empirical role model for not only the U.S. as a whole but, ultimately, for all of the world’s inhabited continents,” said Kelleher in a statement, adding that company employees “thank him for his vision.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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