Chapter 17

Rollin King, of the future Southwest Airlines, had been building his base for an airline start. He needed to get the approval of the Texas Aeronautical Commission as this was, at the start, to be an intra-state carrier.

He also, in this time period, put his financing together, which was required to get approval to operate the airline. The only request that "money" had was that they wanted someone with airline experience to run the operation. Who else, but a fellow Texan ready to get back to Texas, Lamar Muse from Central Airline Days.

Both Gerry Thomas and Don Talmage were meeting with players in this drama, when they remembered that I had sold Lamar the DC-9 at Central Airlines.

It was pretty well known that they were leaning towards the 737 aircraft. Boeing had six airplanes parked on the ground in Seattle from a carrier that had cancelled their order due to financial difficulties. They were being offered at a very attractive price. Douglas suddenly found themselves in the same mode when Northeast airlines went belly-up and six DC-9 aircraft were returned.

Lamar came to Long Beach on his way to Seattle to give us one more chance to convince him of our program. After our meeting, Lamar and I walked out to the car as he was about to depart for Seattle. It was raining and we stood there trying to piece it together. He said that he felt that it was the 737s turn like it was the DC-9s at Central; however, if Boeing did not meet his requirements on this visit, he would be back down in two days to purchase the DC-9. Today, Southwest has over 200 737 aircraft.

Southwest was started as a low-cost carrier and has successfully stayed that way because of its roots and management. Frank Lorenzo could and would not create this from a carrier from the regulated airline era which were the roots of Continental and Texas International, as well as the employees.

When deregulation came along and the low cost operators were unleashed on most of the regulated airlines, the animosity grew through the rank and file, mostly at Frank Lorenzo even when he was out of the industry.

Southwest was a tough carrier to lose, but as Lamar stated, "your time will come around again", as he opted for the DC-9 derivative, the MD-80, for Muse Air, a few years later.