NEW ORLEANS, LA (PRWEB) January 27, 2006
Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today at a press conference in New Orleans made a cash donation of $20,000 to two New Orleans relief funds. The airline donated $10,000 to the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund and $10,000 to the Friends of the Times-Picayune Relief Fund.
"Southwest Airlines has been serving New Orleans for 27 years," said Gary Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines. "We are part of this community, and we will continue to be a partner in the rebuilding of New Orleans tourism."
The New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund was founded by the Brennan family of the Commander's Palace Family of Restaurants and benefits professionals in the hospitality industry who are without jobs following Hurricane Katrina.
"This very generous donation will go a long way toward helping individuals and families in the hospitality industry here in New Orleans," said Ti Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Commander's Palace family of Restaurants. "We can't wait to give the money to those who need it."
The Friends of the Times-Picayune Relief Fund provides direct support for the employees of the New Orleans Times-Picayune who never missed a day of publishing after Hurricane Katrina. Southwest Airlines made the donation in honor of the newspaper's service and in an effort to support the paper's unwavering commitment to covering the challenges the city faces as it continues to rebuild.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Southwest Airlines has partnered with numerous organizations to provide travel, raise funds, and bring awareness to the needs of the New Orleans community. The airline has supported Friends of the Frontline, benefiting the police and firefighters of surrounding parishes; partnered with the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation to transport nearly 100 musical instruments to the city of New Orleans to replace local school children's instruments lost in Hurricane Katrina; provided complimentary roundtrip airfare for holiday travel to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina who enrolled at Maryland's Morgan State University due to school closures in the Gulf Region following the hurricane; partnered with Hibernia Bank to rebuild the Birthplace of Jazz through "ReJazz New Orleans" -- a non-profit web-based campaign launched in mid-September to help restore the Big Easy; donated to the Louisiana Technology Council benefiting small technology companies; and sponsored the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, benefiting area musicians.
In the weeks immediately following Katrina, Southwest Airlines dedicated an aircraft to the relief efforts, evacuating hundreds of New Orleans citizens from the city and flying in relief workers from FEMA, the Red Cross, and other assistance organizations. Southwest worked with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in an organized effort to transport security workers into and out of New Orleans to keep the airport operational. To date, Southwest Airlines has donated 1,200 roundtrip tickets for the New Orleans police and fire first-responders, 1,400 one-way tickets for evacuee transportation, and 63 roundtrip and 19 one-way tickets for relief worker transportation, totaling more than $2 million in donated travel. As of Sept. 30, Southwest Airlines Employees had donated $39,960 to the Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, and the airline matched the donation dollar-for-dollar.
Southwest Airlines also established a "flight bank" in which Southwest Airlines Customers could donate their Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program electronic Awards to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina and in need of transportation to reunite with family or relocate. The donated Awards also were used to assist those involved in the relief efforts.
Southwest Airlines assisted its Employees through medical benefits, temporary salary continuation, and housing allowances. Additionally, Southwest Airlines has provided more than 200 Employees with emergency financial aid through Employee donations to the Southwest Airlines Employee Catastrophic Assistance Charity.
The heart of Southwest Airlines and its 31,000-plus Employees remains with the citizens of New Orleans. Southwest Airlines currently offers 13 daily nonstop flights to five cities, including Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, and Tampa Bay, with additional direct and connecting flights to 28 cities.
Beginning March 17, Southwest Airlines will add five additional flights, bringing the total number of daily nonstop departures from New Orleans to 18. Over eight days surrounding Mardi Gras 2006, Southwest Airlines also will add 36 (18 roundtrip) flights into and out of New Orleans, representing nearly 5,000 additional seats for tourists to visit the Big Easy and take part in the traditional Mardi Gras celebrations.
Public Relations of Southwest Airlines, +1-214-792-4847