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SouthWest Airlines' Herb Kelleher And Colleen Barrett To Retire

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble , KERA 90.1 reporter: Kelleher and Barrett said they'd been thinking of stepping back for awhile. But Herb Kelleher, long the flamboyantly successful leader who helped launch Southwest Airlines 41 years ago, said other issues kept coming up, like 9-11, 2001.

Kelleher: And that radically changed the picture for me and the airline industry as a whole. It became all hands on deck. It was a matter of survival. I was appointed as the point person for the airline industry to develop new security regulations.

Zeeble: More recently, Kelleher helped negotiate Wright amendment changes. Both he & Barrett decided to step down next Spring when their contracts officially end. But they'll remain at work for 5 more years. Still, Kelleher was asked about his legacy.

Kelleher: I think it'll likely be that I consumed more Wild Turkey and cigarettes than anyone in the industry.

Zeeble: Barrett plans to spend her time in customer service, which she says has been her Southwest focus for decades. Airline consultant Daryl Jenkins says the carrier's in good hands with current CEO Gary Kelly.

Daryl Jenkins: Gary Kelly is perfectly suited for this. His personality is totally different than Herb Kellehers' but I think he's going to be a great addition to the Southwest tradition.

Zeeble: For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble.