Fa­ther of low-cost air­line travel dies at 87

The Malta Business Weekly - - INTERNATIONAL -

Herb Kelle­her, who co-founded low-cost US car­rier South­west Air­lines, has died aged 87, the com­pany says.

The com­pany de­scribed him as "a pioneer, a mav­er­ick and an in­no­va­tor" who dis­rupted the air­line in­dus­try "by mak­ing fly­ing both fun and af­ford­able".

He is sur­vived by his wife Joan and three of their four chil­dren.

Founded in 1967, his air­line ini­tially aimed to pro­vide cheap flights be­tween the Texas ci­ties of Hous­ton, Dal­las, and San An­to­nio.

How­ever Mr Kelle­her, who had trained as a lawyer, was forced to fight a le­gal bat­tle af­ter com­peti­tor air­lines fought to pre­vent his planes from op­er­at­ing. The Supreme Court of Texas even­tu­ally ruled in his favour and the air­line be­gan ser­vice in 1971.

"I knew noth­ing about air­lines, which I think made me em­i­nently qual­i­fied to start one," Kelle­her told Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio in 2016, "be­cause what we tried to do at South­west was get away from the tra­di­tional way that air­lines had done busi­ness."

South­west of­fered cheap tick­ets in sin­gle-class cab­ins with­out re­served seats - tac­tics that be­came com­mon in the air­line in­dus­try sev­eral decades later.

The air­line's busi­ness model, which also in­cluded short­ened turn­around times at air­ports, cabin crew col­lect­ing rub­bish, and high air­craft util­i­sa­tion, has since been copied by other low-cost car­ri­ers in­clud­ing Ryanair of the Ir­ish Repub­lic and Easy­jet of the UK. Since its early days, South­west has ex­panded to be­come the world's largest low-cost air­line with more than 700 Boe­ing 737 jets mak­ing 4,000 flights a day, Busi­ness In­sider re­ported.

"Herb's pas­sion, zest for life, and in­sa­tiable in­vest­ment in re­la­tion­ships made last­ing and im­mea­sur­able im­pres­sions on all who knew him," South­west said.

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