Southwest Airlines partners with Tech for more opportunities and experiences for Aviation students

Apr 26, 2023 | General News, Liberal Arts, Partnerships, Students

Thanks to an energizing partnership, the skies are bluer for Louisiana Tech students in the Professional Aviation and Aviation Management programs.

The University entered a partnership with Southwest Airlines® and their pilot training program to help anchor Tech’s commitment to ensure its students are better prepared for jobs in the 21st-century workforce.

The Destination 225° University Pathway identifies high-potential aviators and provides them with a defined pathway to building relevant flying experience at a partner carrier. After gaining flying experience, individuals can envision a career as a Southwest® pilot.

Headquartered in Dallas, Southwest operates one of the world’s most admired and awarded airlines.

“This partnership will help both parties and is a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with an industry leader like Southwest,” Monty Montgomery, Chair of Tech’s Department of Professional Aviation, said. “We’re grateful that the Destination 225° program introduces our students to a defined and clear path to pursuing their dream careers.”

“As a graduate of Louisiana Tech, I’m thrilled for the university to join Southwest’s pilot pathways program, Destination 225˚,” said Lee Kinnebrew, Vice President Flight Operations at Southwest Airlines. “We continue our work of introducing career pathways for the next generation of professional pilots and look forward to supporting Louisiana Tech students as they develop into competitively-qualified Southwest First Officer Candidates in the years ahead.”

The Southwest relationship provides students successful in the selection processes with a defined pathway for employment with a  partner carrier where individuals gain flying experience to become competitively qualified for a future first officer position at Southwest. Participants receive mentorship and various networking, informational, and engagement events at the University and the airline’s training facility.

“This program will help our students gain a leg up in the competitive airline industry,” Dean Karl Puljak of Tech’s College of Liberal Arts said. “We know that the demand for qualified and motivated pilots is high and will continue to grow.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031. About 18,100 openings for airline and commercial pilots are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as retiring.

“Louisiana Tech is proud to be one of several university partners with Southwest Airlines,” Tech President Dr. Les Guice said. “Our students have the qualities the carrier looks for, and our campus culture – including our Tech Tenets – aligns with the values and commitment to excellence the airline industry expects from their employees.”