Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines' CEO, President, and Chairman, today served as an honorary Operations Agent while boarding Customers for an inaugural flight from one of Southwest Airlines' nine new gates in the new East Terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, accompanied by Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Director Leonard L. Griggs.
Today's gate opening marks the completion of the second phase of construction for the new East Terminal. On March 31, a new ticket counter, baggage claim area, and parking garage opened. In December 1998, the final three gates of the 12-gate facility will be ready for Customer use. Southwest Airlines will occupy all 12 gates in the new East Terminal. All the gates are designed to accommodate the newest aircraft in Southwest's fleet, the Boeing 737-700.
The new East Terminal features two levels, one for departures and one for arrivals, with convenient covered roadways. The terminal contains a centralized ticket counter, one common security checkpoint, a technologically advanced baggage claim area, an open and wide concourse with floor-to-ceiling glass offering an impressive view of the airfield, and increased Customer amenities. The facility is 240,000 square feet, which is more than twice the size of the former East Terminal.
"It is a privilege for me to work today alongside Southwest's tremendous Employees in St. Louis to help inaugurate service from these new gates," Kelleher said. "The new East Terminal allows Southwest to offer incomparable Customer Service to St. Louis travelers."
"The East Terminal expansion is an important step to the continued growth of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. This expansion continues to make St. Louis and Lambert leaders in providing a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the demands of its travelers," said Griggs.
Southwest currently offers 87 nonstop departures from St. Louis to Albuquerque, Birmingham, Baltimore/Washington, Cleveland, Chicago Midway, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Phoenix, Louisville, Salt Lake City, Tampa, and Tulsa. Southwest offers direct or connecting service to 25 additional cities. The airline has more than 275 local Employees.
For the third consecutive year, the annual Airline Quality Rating named Southwest Airlines as its top major U.S. airline. The study, conducted by the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha Aviation Institute, rates the airlines in such areas as baggage handling, Customer Service, safety, financial viability, frequent-flyer programs, and others. Southwest also took the top spot in surveys conducted by FORTUNE and Money magazines.
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