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From Plains to planes: Auburn, Southwest Airlines partner

To streamline the transition from the Plains to flying planes, Auburn University’s School of Aviation formed a partnership Monday with Southwest Airlines Destination 225° pilot recruitment program.

The Southwest Airlines Destination 225° University Pathway enables students in pursuing their university degree while building post-graduate flight instructing time. The goal is to be competitively qualified to interview for a first officer role at one of the program’s partner carriers.

The majority of Auburn’s nearly 700 School of Aviation students are professional flight majors, making the partnership a high-quality feeder system for both parties.

“Our School of Aviation is a shining example of excellence at Auburn, and I am thrilled to see our program aligned with Southwest Airlines,” Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts said. “We are committed to providing students with experiential learning and opportunities to make an impact in the world after their days on the Plains. Career pathway programs like Southwest’s Destination 225° are a wonderful way for our aviation students to embark on fulfilling and meaningful careers after graduation.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with Southwest through Auburn Aviation.”

After building their flying experience at a partner carrier through the program, candidates receive employment consideration for a first officer position at Southwest Airlines. Auburn’s job placement rate for professional flight and flight management majors has remained near 100 percent in recent years, the school said.

“This partnership is a win-win for everyone and the latest in a long line of amazing news for the Auburn School of Aviation program,” said Jim Witte, director of Auburn’s School of Aviation. “Southwest Airlines has a proven tradition of excellence in the industry, and we are excited about joining its Destination 225° pathway program to feed the pipeline of the future. Auburn Aviation graduates are making a substantial impact in the industry, and this alignment will help take that to the next level.”

With multiple program partners, Southwest created the university pathway as a highly accessible, cost-effective, and innovative route to flying at a major carrier for students pursuing flight industry-related degrees. On a compass, 225˚ is the southwest directional heading, and the carrier developed Destination 225° to lead aspiring pilots to Southwest.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Auburn University as a partner in Southwest’s Destination 225˚  Program,” 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 students as they train, gain flight experience and develop into competitively-qualified Southwest first officer candidates in the years ahead.”

Auburn’s School of Aviation has established similar partnerships with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

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