On Monday, Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, announced a new partnership between its school of aviation and Southwest Airlines’ Destination 225° program. It is the seventh university to join Southwest’s program, which includes pilot mentorship during a candidate’s undergraduate program and early career, if they are selected for a Southwest career path after graduation.
“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.”
The name of Southwest’s program, established in 2019, is a reference to the southwest heading on a compass. Other member aviation schools include the University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska Omaha, Texas Southern University, and Arizona State University. Southwest also offers mentorship for ex-military candidates and current employees. Auburn University has previously established partnerships with Delta, Endeavor, Envoy, Jet Blue, and United Airlines’ career programs for its students, and boasts a job placement rate for its professional aviation graduates “near 100 percent in recent years,” according to its press release.
The Destination 225° program includes the opportunity to build hours through flight instruction within a candidate’s college aviation school and the possibility of placement with a Southwest partner carrier after graduation, according to Auburn.
To be eligible for the program, aviation majors must be able to obtain a First Class Medical Certificate, hold a private pilot certificate, have completed at least their freshman year of college, and must be authorized to work in the U.S., among other requirements. The Destination 225° selection process includes a written aptitude test and a virtual or in-person interview. Selectees can begin earning income as flight instructors while still in their university program, and must be willing to relocate to complete the program.
“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.”