AN OPEN LETTER:
To: Gary Kelly, president, CEO and chairman of the board for Southwest Airlines
From: Jerry Deal, editor-publisher Myleadernews, plus others
Subject: Consider Harlingen and Rio Grande Valley for SWA projects
It came to my attention via a Southwest Airlines press release received by me that the airlines is undertaking a multi-year commitment to Placmaking — “a movement that reimagines public spaces at the heart of every community.”
It further stated that SWA through its Heart of the Community program, will revitalize and activate public spaces in the hearts of American cities, in partnerhip with the pioneering nonprofit organization behind the Placemaking Project for Public Spaces.
The release states: “Rooted in community based participation, Placemaking involves the planning, design, management and programming of public spaces and capitalizes on a community assets and potential to create vibrant destinations — such as neighborhood parks, community markets and downtown squares.”
“Heart of the Community is part of Southwest’s broader efforts to connect people and strangthen local communities through its core business, charitable giving, community outreach and environmental initatives.”
This writer can visualize a number of projects that could be taken here. So, I plead with you and those involved, to not forget Harlingen and the RGV just because it is one of your smaller if not smallest markets.
There are those down here who have begun to feel a bit neglected by SWA.
They have pointed out the fact it was announced recently that two non-stop flights were eliminated, plus Harlingen is not included in special discount flights.
Some also believe that SWA has become so large and successful that it pays little attention to us here. Some of those also fear that SWA may eventually pull out of Harlingen, which would devastate air traffic here. Getting so large (maybe too big for its pants), they fear the SWA culture will diminish, especially with the recent purchase of another airlines. .
I don’t think that reasoning is entirely true. Times change and I know your company must consider economical choices. Also, I know SWA has played a major role in the local projects such as the Ronald McDonald House here.
Still, I may remind you of an old saying, that has been used by many, including the late Gov. Ann Richards. “Dance with the One Who Brung You.”
Well, remember that after SWA began its flights between San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, the fourth city that the airlines began flights in was Harlingen — in 1975.
We love SWA and hope that SWA still loves us.
Former CEO Herb Kelleher, the colorful head and who was one of two men who had visions of a low-cost efficient airlines, personally told me at the 25th anniversary party at Valley International Airport in 2000, celebrating SWA flying in and out of Harlingen, that “Southwest will remain in Harlingen as long as I live.”
. As one who flew the third day of flights from San Antonio to Dallas — for $10 — in 1973, I hope that the airlines continues here for much longer than that.
Editor’s Note: A copy of this letter will be sent to Mr. Kelly, as well as Harlingen city officials.