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Potential SWA interview thoughts


Well-known member
Nov 27, 2001
Total Time
To those out there wondering when SWA might be interviewing again? First of all I don't know & the purpose of this thread isn't so much to say IF they'll be interviews but what one needs to be doing now & in the future (next 6-9 months) to be prepared for WHEN SWA will be interviewing.

Some unofficial numbers, less than 3500 apps on file at SWA but less than a 1/3 have types most likely. I've read on this board that FEDEX has over twice that number of applicants on file & I assume that is all qualified folks.

The total number of applicants at SWA that meet ALL ualifications (737 typed) is much less than that number, I've heard less than 1000 but more than 600 from various sources.

No more apps are adding to this pool due to the current freeze on taking apps. No idea on when this window would lift but my guess would be sometime later this year. Why? It may take that long to get the changes being made on the pilot side of the house to computerize the app process. The SWA PD are working hard & doing great work to still answer questions & make a quality product.

Why is this being done? I'll caveat again with my thoughts only, certainly I can't speak for management. 1. It will make it easier for SWA & the applicant to get info & update items. 2. Will allow the PD folks to spend more time with people versus paper. 3. Be more efficient when it comes to compiling the data for folks to review for final decisions. Saves time & money, biggees at SWA.

SWA has big expansion plans for the next 7 years. Are you aware that SWA has 100 firm orders for '04 - '08? It has options for over 209 aircraft through '10? See chart below from 10K filings in Dec '02. This has been updated in the May '03 10K filing when 2 aircraft have moved from the option column to the firm order column. Dec '02 SWA 10K filing

YR ---- Firm Order Options Purchase Rights

2003 ----17 --------0-------- 0
2004 ---23 -------11------- 0
2005 ---24 -------18------- 0
2006 ---22 -------16-------- 0
2007 ---25 ------- 9--------20
08-10 --- 6--------25 (5 per yr)197 (avg 39 per yr)

(> Side note. 15 -200s due to retire in '04, 6 -200s in '05)

SWA retires just under 100 pilots in '04 & will average 125 pilots for the next 6 years, '05 - '10. When one looks at the number of retirements, new aircraft, the projections for more pilots is obvious. While '04 numbers will be proportionally smaller than later years the increase in aircraft & pilot retirements in the out years will see new hires exceed 450 routinely & possibly even exceed 700 in one of the out years.

What does this have to do with interviews. This many new hires will require a lot of interviews. Are they going to happen tomorrow or next month? No but nothing happens quickly.

If you're in the pool waiting for a class, congrats...you'll have a much more rapid time to upgrade than probably some of the folks most recently hired.

If you've applied but haven't been interviewed, expect the calls to go slowly at first (later this year) but then the dam will burst (IMHO) sometime next year (60-70 interviews per month)& SWA will need to average nearly 100 interviews per month ('05) to get the required number of new hires required to fill the new aircrafts, retirements plus normal attrition due to medical or buffonery (no naked pilot jokes please!:)

Of course the question will come up, how many left in the hiring pool now? My best guess is somewhere around 200+ but I have no hard numbers. Some have left for other jobs, others have stayed in the military & others have self-eliminated but regardless the interview process is a way away but as I said when I started this process one must decide now IMHO to begin preparing for what position you wish to be in when SWA opens up interviews. With or without type? Currency? PIC time?

One question that may come up is with this large demand in pilots will the type still be required? I have no idea. The variables that support either conclusion requiring it or not requiring are too difficult to forecast or predict but regardless most expect when the app window opens back up, the type will still be required since it was when the window was closed. This is obviously the tough choice for those weighing the cost.
WIA or other options will ease the pain if that is available to you.

I say all of this not to build false hope for those out of work but to let pilots who may desire to work for SWA see what SWA has said in public documents about their plans for the future. It is obviously very bleak out there & while SWA can't hire every furloughed pilot out there, SWA is at least projecting a growth scenario. There are obviously alot of bumps in the road out there and no one can guarantee this growth scenario will occur but the financial health of SWA (48 consecutive qtrs of profitability, 85 of 2nd half '03 fuel at just under $24bar, 80% of '04 fuel at $23 a barrel, bonds rated at investment grade-no public trading, only institutional, percent of leased aircraft declining, all new aircraft paid cash for, more info at http://cbs.marketwatch.com/tools/qu...18519-A8CF-4F88-B223-4CD393F4D2A5}&type=10003
1qtr SWA 10K listing

& the instability in other carrier's operations are factors that could lead to this growth plan occurring. THE BIG CAVEAT, one person's opinion, non-management type, only an FO with no less, no more knowledge than what I've found in public documents. The conclusions are mine only.

My apologies in advance for the rambling nature. I've missed the new hire parties (my regret) due to flying but the loads have been heavy & in speaking to a non-management type at reservations while bookings are just OK, business bookings appear to be on the rise slightly. All good news. I hope we continue to provide this type of good news to new hires, wannabees & to our investors. Good luck, PM if you have questions.
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SWA Line Swine
Dec 6, 2001
Total Time

Just got back from a 3-day. Sat-Mon, all Left coast stuff. Very steady and very full. 86.3% over the weekend and monday.



Well-known member
May 13, 2002
Total Time
20K >
Ok ... I'll try to add some numbers too.

I've flown the 4 day I'm currently on the last three weeks ...

Here's what I saw:

Tuesday ...

BWI-ORF (86)
ORF-JAX (101)
ORF-BWI(137) ... I actually saw 10+ business on this one ...
BWI-ALB(137+3) ... thank goodnees we had 2 JS.

Next Afternoon

Wednesday ...


Thursday ...

FLL-TPA (137)

and finally Friday

SDF-STL (104)
STL-TPA (134)
TPA-FLL (84)
FLL-TPA (93)
TPA-BWI (137)

I don't have a clue what our pax are paying for the tickets, but people are flying.

The information on hiring I got from a CP was exactly what CHASE made mention of in his post. I think the interview process will begin no later than 1/2004 with 400-600 per year min.

The big variables will be city expansion (GSP, ABE, RIC, something in CO and maybe something in PA if the originating boardings warrant it ... these are my ideas).

It won't be boring around here for the next 5+ years.


5 Star Senior Member
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time
GO SWA!!!! Loads have been good every trip that I have been on...including a few over sells.


Well-known member
Sep 24, 2002
Total Time
Hiring Numbers

Yesterday a friend showed me the SWAPA web site that showed the most current firm order and plane retirement schedule for '04. SWA recently converted 2 of 11 options to firm orders bringing the total deliveries to 25. They also reduced the -200 retirements to 15 to 13. NET GAIN OF 12 PLANES.

Assuming about 100 pilot retirements and a slightly conservative 10 pilots per plane (current ratio is 10.67 according to SWAPA site, with 4175 total pilots), SWA would have to hire 220 next year. With options left for nine more planes that would bring potential hiring to 310. Throw in a slop factor and hiring would be 200 to 350 according to these assumptions.

With about 200 left in the current pool, interviews won't have to start until early next year.

On the bright side, several SWA friends have said they heard hiring in the range of 400-600 next year so who knows.

Does anyone have something like the official numbers for mandatory age 60 retirements for the next couple of years and how many early retirements generally occur?


Well-known member
Nov 27, 2001
Total Time
Retirement Losses for SWA

The following are the numbers through '10.

Yr Pilot Ret.
4 89
5 102
6 155
7 152
8 142
9 108
10 142

Throw in a factor of medical furloughs or other reasons for folks leaving early (rough factor of around 24 per year) these numbers give you a rough idea of the retirement numbers. I just flew with a senior DAL capt who is 4 years shy of retiring but is retiring later this year. If the stock price nears anything in the $25 to $30 range you can expect the early retirement numbers to jump dramatically due to the options & the value they would hold. Some guys who are retiring now with the stock price so low are receiving significantly less in retirement moneies if they are working off their stock options than guys who retired when the price was nearer $25-$30.

hope that helps,

p.s. your assumptions are close to what I've heard the company is using for guidelines for future planning purposes. I've also heard some recent rumblings from fairly good sources that there maybe more new hire classes beyond the May classes. Nothing firm but the discussions are being held.


Dark side of Pikes Peak
Sep 15, 2002
Total Time
That's what I like to hear


(while doing cheetah flips)