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Tampa Bay-Lakeland
Business Observer Friday, Apr. 23, 2010 12 years ago

Southwest debuts Florida plane

Southwest Airlines unveiled its latest state-flag plane Friday morning.

Southwest Airlines unveiled its latest state-flag plane Friday morning, a Boeing 737 draped with the cross and seal of the state of Florida. The new plane, dubbed Florida One, will join seven other states whose flags are represented in flight.

Gary Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Dallas-based Southwest, says the plane represents a commitment to Florida dating to 1996 when service was introduced in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. “Our pride for Florida will fly high over the 68 cities Southwest serves,” Kelly said during a Friday morning press conference to unwrap Florida One at a Tampa International Airport hangar.

Southwest, which has 2,500 employees statewide, operates 284 nonstop departures from Florida each day and carries 20% of the state's air traffic. Other cities served in the Sunshine State include Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, with Panama City being added to the itinerary next month.

The new plane was being flown to celebrations at all of Southwest's Florida airports throughout the day Friday. As an added bonus, Southwest is cutting fares to $49 each way through Monday on selected flights within the state between May 11 and June 23.

At least 46 gallons of paint and 16 different colors were used to decorate Florida One. Other Southwest planes are decorated in the state flags of Texas, Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and Maryland.

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