Destination 225º: Bolstering Our Talent Pipeline

We’re fortunate to attract many top candidates to fill our Pilot positions. However, we see the potential industry shortage ahead. Barriers to entry, such as expenses and time, prevent many individuals from pursuing careers as pilots. Military drawdowns have caused the pool of qualified ex-military pilots to dwindle in recent years. And with increasing retirements slated to hit the airline industry in the next decade, the demand for qualified professional pilots could increase. In response, Southwest launched an innovative career program in July 2019, called Destination 225°, which we believe helps us reduce our dependence on the open market.

On a compass, 225° is the southwest directional heading, and the aptly named Destination 225° Program was developed to lead aspiring pilots to Southwest. The program seeks to meet future, high-potential aviators at their current experience level and provide pathways to assist them with becoming highly skilled and qualified for future opportunities at Southwest.

Participants who apply, interview, and are selected for the Destination 225° program will receive a Southwest mentor during their years of training, be invited to Southwest Headquarters for training activities and events, and, ultimately, get the opportunity to apply for open Southwest First Officer positions. While a job is not guaranteed, cadets who meet the training standards and complete all program milestones will meet with a Chief Pilot selection committee for final approval. Participants receive training and flight experience on how to fly and specifically, how to fly “The Southwest Way.”

Destination 225º is made up of four distinct pathways for candidates:
Destination 225° Cadet Pathway
The Cadet Pathway is an ab initio—”from the beginning”—program which provides passionate, skilled individuals with a multi-year training program in partnership with CAE, a worldwide leader in training for the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare markets. The classroom and flight training will take place at CAE’s Phoenix training facility. The goal of the program is to have candidates qualified and prepared to apply for positions with program partners such as XOJET Aviation or Jet Linx, to gain the flying experience necessary to be a competitive First Officer candidate at Southwest.

Destination 225° University Pathway
The University Pathway is designed for collegiate aviators who attend a Southwest partner university or complete a Southwest Campus Reach Internship. Southwest is partnering with four universities to offer this transition training: Arizona State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, University of Nebraska Omaha, and The University of Oklahoma. Our University Pathway corporate flying partners include XOJET Aviation, Jet Linx, and iAero Group’s Swift Air.

Destination 225° Military Pathway
The Military Pathway bridges the gap for active military pilots who do not yet meet the minimum requirements to start their career as an airline pilot. If an individual has previous rotor/powerlift experience as a military pilot, this pathway will develop the skills and experience necessary for fixed-wing airline operations. Southwest is proud to offer this transition training through a partnership with Bell Murray Aviation, a FAA 142 Training Center, which is dedicated to exploring training opportunities in all areas of aerospace, including individual pilot training, corporate, and military aviation operations. The corporate partners offering the opportunity to build the necessary flying experience are iAero Group’s Swift Air, Jet Linx, and XOJET Aviation.

Destination 225° Employee Pathway
Southwest is known for incredible Employees, and, in a partnership with CAE and US Aviation Academy, Southwest Employees will be able to apply for the Employee Pathway to pursue a career as a professional pilot.

The Destination 225° Program was created with the help from several industry-leading partners, including CAE, Bell Murray Aviation, US Aviation Academy, Jet Linx, XOJET Aviation, iAero Group’s Swift Air, ARGUS, Arizona State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, University of Nebraska Omaha, and The University of Oklahoma.

For more on Destination 225°, visit

Destination 225° will offer pathways for the development of world-class pilots who are ready to fly ‘The Southwest Way.’ This comprehensive training program is designed to make becoming a Southwest First Officer an attainable goal for passionate, highly skilled individuals. Pilots in the Destination 225° pathways will receive training customized to Southwest from our partners and will be held to the competitive hiring requirements for future First Officer positions. We are looking for participants who demonstrate the technical aptitude to excel in all aspects of their training and development as a future Southwest Pilot.
—Alan Kasher, Senior Vice President Air Operations, Daily Operations

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