21 May 2008

The Herb Show Finally Heads Off To The Bar

From then till now - Herb Kelleher has been the voice and face of Southwest Airlines. Any stunt was a good stunt. But it was always about being different and tweaking the nose of the big guys. Well now his time is up. Herb officially steps down today as Chairman having relinquished the CEO slot a long time ago. His original admin and long time sidekick - Colleen Barratt steps down in July. Both will draw a salary of $400K per year for the next 5 years and remain officially as "employees".

Herb's accomplishments are just too numerous to list. But perhaps the rest of us should be appreciative of one thing. He did his darndest to make flying a better experience. In the end Southwest was very little different from the big boys airlines. Now Southwest flies more passengers than any other US airline. And perhaps that is his legacy. Those who understood that the core metric is the Passenger are winners. Those who stubbornly hang on to Cents Per Mile are born losers.

I only hope one day someone will bring Herb and his nemesis Bob Crandall back for one last performance in the open. They are probably the last characters we have seen in this crazy business called airlines.

Best of luck to Herb and Colleen - you will be missed. I will raise a glass of Bourbon tonight in your honor (not sure if BA carries it!).


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