Caring for the Planet
We Call Home

Southwest Airlines operates more than 3,900 daily flights during peak travel season. With each flight, we take to heart our commitment of Living Responsibly and reducing our environmental impact. Through continuous improvement, a Warrior Spirit, and a Servant’s Heart, we renew that commitment every day, in the air and on the ground.

Key Accomplishments

300,000 gal.

We can save 300,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, annually, through idle reduction of our provisioning vehicles while servicing aircraft.1

We donated 5,000 surplus life vests to a nonprofit to assist fishermen in Uganda, keeping waste out of landfills

We have improved jet fuel efficiency by 30.6% on a revenue ton mile (RTM)33 basis since 2005.

Key Topic

Energy Use

Energy consumption, particularly jet fuel, is a significant part of our operations and our environmental impact. We appreciate that many Customers are concerned about their carbon footprint when they fly. That’s why at Southwest we are always conscious of the need to use energy wisely, and we work to implement innovative ways to conserve it on the ground and in the air. From using renewable energy to integrating groundbreaking technologies, we continually aspire to reduce our consumption rates.

Smart Investments
Smart Investments
Amount invested in fuel efficiency improvements since 2002.
Planning for Better Fuel Efficiency
Planning for Better Fuel Efficiency
Refining our fuel planning calculations and flight planning procedures enabled us to save more than 25 million gallons of fuel in 2016.
Key Topic

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

People fly on Southwest for a number of reasons, from our low fares to our friendly Customer Service. We’re working to add one more reason: our efforts to continue leading the industry in emissions reductions through fuel efficiency. It’s part of a comprehensive environmental program that aligns with our focus on Living Responsibly.

5 years
Of improving our CO2e intensity ratio
As part of our continued commitment to reducing our emissions, in 2016, we replaced 89% of our eligible equipment35 at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport with electric.
Pieces of electric ground support equipment systemwide
Key Topic


We see waste as an opportunity to do better by improving efficiency.1 We emphasize reusing and recycling throughout our Company—sometimes in innovative and unexpected ways. We also educate our Employees to help them recycle at work and at home. It’s all part of how we work to do what’s right by Living Responsibly and respecting our resources.

Innovating to Cut Waste
Innovating to Cut Waste
In 2016, we installed 1,600 tracking devices on our ground support vehicles to better monitor maintenance needs and reduce the disposal of many vehicle components.
Landfill Diversion
Landfill Diversion
Our repurposing and recycling efforts kept 3,348 tons of waste out of landfills in 2016.

Looking Forward1

  • Launch 737 MAX 8
    We expect Boeing’s new, more fuel-efficient 737 MAX 8 aircraft to enter service in October 2017.
  • Expand Idle Reduction Program
    We plan to expand our provisioning truck idle reduction program by replacing 45 old trucks by the end of 2017, with new ones that incorporate idle reduction technology.
  • Continue Electric GSE Improvements
    We continue to build our electric GSE fleet at Los Angeles International (LAX), Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), and Oakland International (OAK) by purchasing additional electric pushbacks for those stations.
  • Systemwide Recycling Program
    We are extending our Ring Leader Recycling Program from Orlando to 22 additional airports across the country. The program recycles the plastic six-pack rings used to hold multi-pack bottles or cans.
  • Continue Repurposing Program
    We will continue to repurpose and recycle, including an initiative in Mexico to support local artisans.

Planet Data Table

Five Year Summary
Environmental Impacts
Total energy consumption (megawatt-hours (MWh))3477,366,03273,688,16169,827,29470,493,62471,571,555
Intensity ratio (MWh/1,000 RTMs)336.136.206.396.686.87
Water consumption (gallons)3683 million80 million 83 million 69 million 77 million
Intensity ratio (gallons/Employee)22More than 1,500More than 1,600Nearly
More than 1,500Nearly
Greenhouse Gas Inventory (Scope 1 and Scope 2 Emissions)
Scope 1 emissions (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e))19,664,62218,731,06217,784,22717,956,47318,232,474
Scope 2 emissions (metric tons of CO2e) 53,26448,81051,22847,68046,783
Total Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions (metric tons of CO2e)19,717,88618,779,87217,835,45518,004,15318,279,257
Production activity (revenue passenger miles (RPMs))15124.8 billion117.5 billion108.0 billion104.3 billion102.9 billion
Intensity ratio (metric tons CO2e/1,000 RPMs) 0.1580.1600.1650.1730.178
Production activity (available seat miles (ASMs))3148.5 billion140.5 billion 131.0 billion 130.3 billion 128.1 billion
Intensity ratio (metric tons CO2e/1,000 ASMs) 0.1330.1340.1360.1380.143
Production activity (revenue ton miles (RTMs)) 12.6 billion 11.9 billion 10.9 billion 10.6 billion 10.4 billion
Intensity ratio (metric tons CO2e/1,000 RTMs) 1.561.581.631.701.76
Greenhouse Gas Inventory (Scope 3 Emissions)
Capital goods—production of aircraft (metric tons CO2e)43,60026,50053,00032,000
Waste generated in operations—waste to landfill and burned for energy recovery (metric tons CO2e)3,5003,0005,1005,700
Employee commuting—estimate based on survey (metric tons CO2e)218,600183,600174,000188,000
Other Air Emissions
NOx emissions (tons)377.17.1
SOx emissions (tons)370.70.7
Regulatory Compliance
Number of environmental violations resulting in fines163None1
Total environmental fines $ 3,303$ 7,497$ 5,738$ — $ 1,500
Environmental Conservation
Fuel efficiency (ASMs/gallon) 74.473.972.871.769.4
Fuel efficiency (RTMs/gallon)
Total number of electric & solar GSE 1,3361,2291,088963927
Purchases of renewable energy certificates (kWh)More than 25 millionMore than 25 millionMore than 25 millionMore than 25 millionMore than 15.7 million
Waste Management & Recycling
Total waste generated (tons) 9,69011,135
Total waste recycled (tons) 3,3484,148
Percent of total waste recycled 3537
Recycled co-mingled waste—paper, plastic, aluminum, and cardboard (tons)38More than 2,600More than 3,700More than 3,000More than 2,700Nearly
Recycled industrial waste (tons) 721631520660632
Hazardous waste generated (tons)
Hazardous waste managed through recycling and beneficial reuse (tons)16.118.912.411.618.5
Intensity ratio (pounds of hazardous waste generated/aircraft)6771504463

Important footnotes and disclosures

1) The 2016 Southwest Airlines One Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are based on, and include statements about, the Company’s estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, and strategies for the future, and are not guarantees of future performance. Specific forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements related to (i) the Company’s Vision; (ii) the Company’s fleet plans, strategies, and expectations, including its fleet modernization initiatives, and the Company’s related financial and operational expectations; (iii) the Company’s financial position, outlook, goals, targets, strategies, plans, expectations, and projected results of operations, including specific factors expected to impact the Company’s results of operations; (iv) the Company’s plans and expectations with respect to its new reservation system and other technology initiatives, and the Company’s related multi-faceted financial and operational expectations and opportunities; (v) the Company’s construction initiatives and related operational expectations; (vi) the Company’s growth plans, strategies, and opportunities, including the Company’s network and capacity plans, opportunities, and expectations; (vii) the Company’s expectations and goals with respect to returning value to Shareholders; (viii) the Company’s expectations related to its management of risk associated with changing jet fuel prices; and (ix) the Company’s initiatives and related plans and expectations. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) changes in demand for the Company’s services and other changes in consumer behavior; (ii) the impact of economic conditions, fuel prices, actions of competitors (including without limitation pricing, scheduling, and capacity and network decisions and consolidation and alliance activities), and other factors beyond the Company’s control, on the Company’s business decisions, plans, and strategies; (iii) the Company’s dependence on third parties, in particular with respect to its fleet, technology, and construction plans; (iv) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support its operations and initiatives; (v) the impact of governmental regulations and other governmental actions related to the Company’s operations; (vi) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively prioritize its initiatives and related expenditures; (vii) the impact of labor matters on the Company’s business decisions, plans, strategies, and costs; (viii) changes in aircraft fuel prices, the impact of hedge accounting, and any changes to the Company’s fuel hedging strategies and positions; and (ix) other factors, as described in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016.

2) The Company's Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP"). These GAAP financial statements include (i) unrealized non-cash adjustments and reclassifications, which can be significant, as a result of accounting requirements and elections made under accounting pronouncements relating to derivative instruments and hedging and (ii) other charges and benefits the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operational performance.

As a result, the Company also provides financial information in this report that was not prepared in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to the information prepared in accordance with GAAP. The Company provides supplemental non-GAAP financial information, including results that it refers to as "economic," which the Company's management utilizes to evaluate its ongoing financial performance and the Company believes provides additional insight to investors as supplemental information to its GAAP results. The non-GAAP measures provided that reflect the Company’s performance on an economic fuel cost basis include Fuel and oil expense, non-GAAP; Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating expenses, non-GAAP; Net income, non-GAAP; and Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP. The Company's economic Fuel and oil expense results differ from GAAP results in that they only include the actual cash settlements from fuel hedge contracts - all reflected within Fuel and oil expense in the period of settlement. Thus, Fuel and oil expense on an “economic” basis has historically been utilized by the Company, as well as some of the other airlines that utilize fuel hedging, as it reflects the Company’s actual net cash outlays for fuel during the applicable period, inclusive of settled fuel derivative contracts. Any net premium costs paid related to option contracts are reflected as a component of Other (gains) losses, net, for both GAAP and non-GAAP (including economic) purposes in the period of contract settlement. The Company believes these economic results provide a better measure of the impact of the Company's fuel hedges on its operating performance and liquidity since they exclude the unrealized, non-cash adjustments and reclassifications that are recorded in GAAP results in accordance with accounting guidance relating to derivative instruments, and they reflect all cash settlements related to fuel derivative contracts within Fuel and oil expense. This enables the Company's management, as well as investors and analysts, to consistently assess the Company's operating performance on a year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter basis after considering all efforts in place to manage fuel expense. However, because these measures are not determined in accordance with GAAP, such measures are susceptible to varying calculations and not all companies calculate the measures in the same manner. As a result, the aforementioned measures, as presented, may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies.

In addition, the Company’s GAAP results in the applicable periods include other charges or benefits that are deemed “special items” that the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operations and make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or to its competitors’ results. Financial measures identified as non-GAAP (or as excluding special items) have been adjusted to exclude special items. Special items include:

1. A one-time $172 million Special revenue adjustment in July 2015 as a result of the Company’s amendment of its co-branded credit card agreement with Chase Bank USA, N.A. and the resulting required change in accounting methodology. This increase to revenue represented a nonrecurring required acceleration of revenues associated with the adoption of Accounting Standards Update 2009-13;

2. Union contract bonuses recorded for certain workgroups. As the bonuses would only be paid at ratification of the associated tentative agreement and would not represent an ongoing expense to the Company, management believes its results for the associated periods are more usefully compared if the impacts of ratification bonus amounts are excluded from results. Generally, union contract agreements cover a specified three- to five- year period, although such contracts officially never expire, and the agreed upon terms remain in place until a revised agreement is reached, which can be several years following the amendable date;

3. Expenses associated with the Company’s acquisition and integration of AirTran Holdings, LLC, the parent company of AirTran Airways, Inc. (“AirTran”). Such expenses were primarily incurred during the acquisition and integration period of the two companies from 2011 through 2015 as a result of the Company’s acquisition of AirTran, which closed on May 2, 2011. The exclusion of these expenses provides investors with a more applicable basis with which to compare results in future periods now that the integration process has been completed;

4. A gain resulting from a litigation settlement received in January 2015. This cash settlement meaningfully lowered Other operating expenses during the applicable period, and the Company does not expect a similar impact on its cost structure in the future;

5. A noncash impairment charge related to leased slots at Newark Liberty International Airport as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration announcement in April 2016 that this airport was being changed to a Level 2 schedule-facilitated airport from its previous designation as Level 3; and

6. Lease termination costs recorded during 2016 as a result of the Company acquiring five of its Boeing 737-300 aircraft off operating leases, as part of the Company’s strategic effort to phase out its Classic aircraft from operations by the end of third quarter 2017 in the most economically advantageous manner possible. The Company had not budgeted for these early lease termination costs, as they were subject to negotiations being concluded with the third party lessors. The Company recorded the fair value of the aircraft, as well as any associated remaining obligations to the balance sheet as debt.

Because management believes each of these items can distort the trends associated with the Company’s ongoing performance as an airline, the Company believes that evaluation of its financial performance can be enhanced by a supplemental presentation of results that exclude the impact of these items in order to enhance consistency and comparativeness with results in prior periods that do not include such items and as a basis for evaluating operating results in future periods. The following measures are often provided, excluding special items, and utilized by the Company’s management, analysts, and investors to enhance comparability of year-over-year results, as well as to compare results to other airlines: Operating revenues, non-GAAP; Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating expenses, non-GAAP, excluding Fuel and oil expense; Net income, non-GAAP; and Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP.

The Company has also provided free cash flow, which is a non-GAAP financial measure. The Company believes free cash flow is a meaningful measure because it demonstrates the Company's ability to service its debt, pay dividends, and make investments to enhance Shareholder value. Although free cash flow is commonly used as a measure of liquidity, definitions of free cash flow may differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for free cash flow. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, the Company generated $2.3 billion in free cash flow, calculated as operating cash flows of $4.3 billion less capital expenditures of $2.0 billion less assets constructed for others of $109 million plus reimbursements for assets constructed for others of $107 million.

The Company has also provided its calculation of return on invested capital, which is a measure of financial performance used by management to evaluate its investment returns on capital. Return on invested capital is not a substitute for financial results as reported in accordance with GAAP, and should not be utilized in place of such GAAP results. Although return on invested capital is not a measure defined by GAAP, it is calculated by the Company, in part, using non-GAAP financial measures. Those non-GAAP financial measures are utilized for the same reasons as those noted above for Net income, non-GAAP and Operating income, non-GAAP - the comparable GAAP measures include charges or benefits that are deemed “special items” that the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operations and make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or to its competitors’ results, and the Company’s profitability targets and estimates, both internally and externally, are based on results excluding special items since in the vast majority of cases the “special items” cannot be reliably predicted or estimated. The Company believes non-GAAP return on invested capital is a meaningful measure because it quantifies the Company’s effectiveness in generating returns, relative to the capital it has invested in its business. Although return on invested capital is commonly used as a measure of capital efficiency, definitions of return on invested capital differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for non-GAAP return on invested capital in the accompanying reconciliation tables (see Return on Invested Capital), in order to allow investors to compare and contrast its calculation to those provided by other companies.

Information regarding special items and reconciliations of reported amounts to amounts excluding special items are included in the accompanying reconciliation tables in the Performance section.

3) An available seat mile (ASM) is one seat (empty or full) flown one mile. Also referred to as “capacity,” which is a measure of the space available to carry Passengers in a given period.

4) Calculated as operating revenues divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as "operating unit revenues" or "RASM," this is a measure of operating revenue production based on the total available seat miles flown during a particular period. Year ended 2015 RASM excludes a $172 million one-time special revenue adjustment. Including the special revenue adjustment, RASM would have been 14.11 cents for the year ended 2015.

5) The average amount of passenger revenue per revenue passenger carried.

6) A slot is the right of an air carrier, pursuant to regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration, to operate a takeoff or landing at a specific time at certain airports.

7) Calculated as operating expenses divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as “unit costs” or “cost per available seat mile,” this is the average cost to fly an aircraft seat (empty or full) one mile, which is a measure of cost efficiencies.

8) As measured by the Department of Transportation O&D Survey for the twelve months ended Sept. 30, 2016 based on domestic originating passengers.

9) Average number of weekday flights as of Dec. 31, 2016.

10) Number of scheduled flights that arrived less than 15 minutes after scheduled arrival time divided by total scheduled flights.

11) Load factor is RPMs15 divided by ASMs.3

12) Calculated as passenger revenue divided by revenue passenger miles. Also referred to as “yield,” this is the average cost paid by a paying Passenger to fly one mile, which is a measure of revenue production and fares.

13) Average distance in miles the aircraft is flown per trip.

14) U.S. Department of Transportation Form 41 and T100 data, through Sept. 30, 2016. Based on costs that have been adjusted for Southwest’s average stage length and represents domestic mainline.

15) An RPM is one paying Passenger flown one mile. Also referred to as "traffic," which is a measure of demand for a given period.

16) Aircraft in the Company's fleet at yearend, less Boeing 717-200s removed from service in preparation for transition out of the fleet.

17) The 2016 Southwest Airlines One Report may contain information obtained from third parties, including ratings from credit ratings agencies such as S&P Global Ratings. Reproduction and distribution of third party content in any form is prohibited except with the prior written permission of the related third party. Third party content providers do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of any information, including ratings, and are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, or for the results obtained from the use of such content. THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS GIVE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY, COMPENSATORY, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, COSTS, EXPENSES, LEGAL FEES, OR LOSSES (INCLUDING LOST INCOME OR PROFITS AND OPPORTUNITY COSTS OR LOSSES CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE) IN CONNECTION WITH ANY USE OF THEIR CONTENT, INCLUDING RATINGS. Credit ratings are statements of opinions and are not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold or sell securities. They do not address the suitability of securities or the suitability of securities for investment purposes, and should not be relied on as investment advice.

18) Source: Bloomberg as of March 16, 2017. Moody’s Senior Unsecured rating used (if unavailable, Long Term Corporate Family or Long Term rating used); S&P’s Long Term Issuer rating used; Fitch’s Senior Unsecured rating used (if unavailable, Long-term Issuer rating used).

19) In terms of domestic passenger traffic.

20) Metro areas are areas around cities that may include multiple major airports; Co-terminal: Airports that share a common city or region; for example, Newark, LaGuardia and JFK are considered co-terminals to one another.

21) Earnings before interest and taxes.

22) Active, full-time equivalent Employees as of Dec. 31 for specified calendar year.

23)Tax amounts for each individual special item are calculated at the Company's effective rate for the applicable period and totaled in this line item.

24) Net adjustment related to presumption that all aircraft in fleet are owned (i.e., the impact of eliminating aircraft rent expense and replacing with estimated depreciation expense for those same aircraft). The Company makes this adjustment to enhance comparability to other entities that have different capital structures by utilizing alternative financing decisions.

25) The Adjustment for fuel hedge accounting in the numerator is due to the Company’s accounting policy decision to classify fuel hedge accounting premiums below the Operating income line, and thus is adjusting Operating income to reflect such policy decision. The Equity adjustment for hedge accounting in the denominator adjusts for the cumulative impacts in Accumulated other comprehensive income and Retained earnings, of gains and/or losses associated with hedge accounting related to fuel hedge derivatives that will settle in future periods. The current period impact of these gains and/or losses are reflected in the Net impact from fuel contracts in the numerator.

26) Calculated as an average of the five most recent quarter end balances or remaining obligations. The Net present value of aircraft operating leases represents the assumption that all aircraft in the Company’s fleet are owned, as it reflects the remaining contractual commitments discounted at its estimated incremental borrowing rate as of the time each individual lease was signed.

27) Flight includes Cabin Service Support, Inflight, and Flight Operations. Ground, Customer, and Fleet Services includes Provisioning, Customer Services, Ground Operations, and Operations Coordination Center.

28) Based on Independent Sector’s estimated value of a volunteer hour. For more information, visit:

29) Source: Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Impact Evaluation: 2016 (Research conducted by Nicolas Ronderos Consulting).

31) Each plane ticket is valued at $400.

32) Includes Southwest’s contributions to Employee health and welfare plans, workers’ compensation insurance, and employer payroll taxes.

33) A revenue ton mile (RTM) is one ton of revenue traffic (passenger and cargo) transported one mile.

34) Conversions to MWh are based on default densities and heating values from the CDP guidance document, “Technical Note: Conversion of fuel data to MWh.” We use this unit of measurement for consistency with our CDP reporting.

35) Eligible equipment includes belt loaders, pushbacks, and bag tugs.

36) Water consumption is primarily for domestic use at our facilities.

37) NOx and SOx emissions are reported in our annual emissions inventories for our DAL and PHX facilities. Data is from prior year due to air emissions reporting cycle.

38) Material recycled from aircraft and select facilities as part of the Southwest co-mingled recycling program. Does not include international flights due to regulations that require waste from international flights to be incinerated. Does not include AirTran flights.

Important footnotes and disclosures