SAN ANGELO, Texas — Angelo State University held a ceremony Wednesday, Aug. 3 in the Houston Harte University Center to announce its partnership with Southwest Airlines.
The "Destination 225" pilot recruitment program will provide ASU commercial aviation students a pathway to competitively qualify for community opportunities with Southwest Airlines.
"We want to change family trees for people who are coming into the federal and state. When they leave, we want to be able to change family trees for the better," ASU President Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr. said. "One of the ways that we can do that is this career path that could be provided to many of our students in the airline industry, starting with 'Destination 225'.”
The candidate students will receive training and ongoing mentorship from a Southwest Airlines pilot during their time at ASU.
The shortage of pilots is still happening nationwide and some airlines are still struggling to find qualified pilots to continue business.
Vice President of Flight Operations Lee Kinnebrew said Southwest has not been affected by the shortage.
"We really want to be able to represent the communities that we serve. While we don't fly to San Angelo, we do know that this embodies the diversity, equity and inclusion that we like to see in Southwest Airlines," Kinnebrew said. "So we're excited to see and partner with such a great university. That is really doing things very, very well right off the bat.”
Second year aviation student Li Devereaux is excited to continue his journey to become a pilot and he said ASU has been the best place to do it.
“It's a really well structured program, so it may make that opportunity come to life for me because it might have not been a possibility," he said. "If we didn't have this opportunity with the university and like having the great people that put it together and like mentors as you and the Skyline and all that put together makes it really easy to get it done.”
ASU students in the Bachelor of Commercial Aviation (B.C.A.) – Flight Operations degree program will be able to apply for 'Destination 225' as early as their sophomore year.
If they are accepted and fulfill all the requirements, upon graduating from ASU they will enter a career pathway toward Southwest Airlines that includes:
Acting as ASU flight instructors for the year following their graduation
Eligibility to be hired at one of Southwest Airlines’ partner carriers upon completing flight instructing time
Consideration for pilot positions at Southwest Airlines after building flight experience at their partner carrier
ASU is the sixth university to join the recruitment program since it began in 2019, and 50 students are expected to enroll in the flight program in this upcoming fall semester.