Securing America's Future Energy

SAFE Responds to the Passing of Southwest Airlines Founder Herbert Kelleher

Contact: Alex Adams | 202.461.2374 |

Washington, D.C.— In response to news of the passing of Herbert Kelleher, the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Southwest Airlines and a founding board member of Securing America’s Future Energy’s (SAFE) Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond made the following statement.

“Herb was one of a kind, and everyone who met Herb has a story to tell. Ours is how his commitment as a member of SAFE’s ESLC since its inception has helped us to advocate for policies that enhance U.S. energy security at the highest level, from maximizing domestic oil production to reducing our transportation system’s singular dependence on petroleum.”

Starting with a fleet of just three airplanes, under Herb’s leadership Southwest became the most popular airline in the country, transporting more passengers within the U.S. than any other carrier and transforming commercial aviation in the process.

As a result, Herb had a keen understanding of how oil price volatility not only affects American economic security, but also hurts U.S. energy security goals. He was quick to realize the need for a grand bargain between greater U.S. oil production and reduced petroleum consumption, and was acutely aware that our dependence on oil is a tax on the economy.

“The vision and leadership Herb displayed at Southwest meant he was quick to realize the need for, and potential of, the ESLC. He took me under his wing during SAFE’s early days and he grew into not only a great mentor, but also a good friend. Herb’s commitment to the mission of the ESLC, as well as his endless trove of anecdotes, means will be sorely missed by all of us at SAFE,” Diamond added.

Herb was always a tireless advocate for SAFE and the ESLC, authoring influential op-eds on the need to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, and until recently still traveling to Washington to meet with SAFE staff and fellow ESLC members.

Formed in 2006, the ESLC is a group of retired military leaders and Fortune 500 CEOs who share the same commitment toward reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. The ESLC has been the driving force behind a number of SAFE initiatives, most recently SAFE’s 2016 National Strategy on Energy Security: The Innovation Revolution which offers a range of policy solutions to the challenges created by our ongoing oil dependence, including the anti-market conduct of OPEC and national oil companies.


About Securing America’s Future Energy

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.


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