Southwest Airlines Donates Leather LUV Seat Products In Nairobi, Kenya

Southwest Airlines Donates Leather LUV Seat Products In Nairobi, Kenya

Hundreds of soccer balls and shoes are distributed as part of global initiative to upcycle approximately 43 acres of former airline seat coverings
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Monday, November 3, 2014 - 5:15pm

DALLAS­­, October 30, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today announced the distribution of products made in Kenya and the U.S. as part of its global upcycling initiative LUV Seat: Repurpose with Purpose.  The distribution in Kenya completes the second phase of the multi-year environmental program, which will upcycle approximately 80,000 former airline seat coverings into new leather products to provide valuable training and jobs in several communities in addition to keeping these materials out of a landfill.

“LUV Seat is a program that stays true to the heart of Southwest Airlines,” said Bill Tiffany, Southwest Airlines’ Vice President of Supply Chain Management. “The tremendous results we are already seeing and the strong commitment of these Phase I organizations excite me for the subsequent efforts to come.  LUV Seat has fostered the culture of sustainability at Southwest as we look for new ways to upcycle and grow our commitment to global citizenship.”

In Nairobi, nonprofit organizations SOS Children’s Villages Kenya, Alive & Kicking, Maasai Treads, and Life Beads Kenya have provided vocational and skills training for young adults and community members by making shoes, soccer balls, backpacks, wallets, and makeup bags from the used leather. This week, Southwest Airlines donated a majority of the products to youth across a number of villages and organizations across Kenya.

Young adults, ranging in age from 17 to 22, from SOS Children’s Villages Kenya apprenticed in leather works and produced 2,100 pairs of shoes with the local sustainable shoe company Maasai Treads. The shoes are being donated to SOS villages and Ahadi Trust as part of an anti-jigger campaign, and to Cura Orphanage, a residence for children who have lost their parents to AIDS.  In addition to making shoes, the young adults learned how to hand-stitch 1,000 soccer balls with Alive & Kicking, which uses sports education campaigns to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and Malaria prevention. Kenya-based GoodMakers Films and the Gina Din Foundation are at the helm of managing the project in Kenya and were instrumental in bringing the diverse organizations together.  Additionally, Creative Visions Foundation was invaluable in getting the LUV Seat program off the ground.

“This is an exciting moment in our relationship with Southwest Airlines. We are amazed with the quality of products made by many of our youth and are excited to help distribute these products to children and families in need,” said Lynn Croneberger, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages - USA. "It's great to know this innovative program will continue to benefit the partner organizations and recipients for years to come."

In the U.S., Southwest Airlines joined with LooptWorks, a domestic upcycling company, to create high-quality duffle and tote bags, called LUV Seat bags. Through the LUV Seat bags project, LooptWorks provided skills training and jobs for disabled adults. The bags are currently being gifted by Southwest to celebrate the end of the Wright Amendment and will be available for sale to the public starting this month.

Southwest Airlines has received praise from Customers and Employees for the unique LUV Seat program, which goes beyond sustainable corporate philanthropy to community development.  Using the hashtag #LUVSeat, hundreds of ideas for new partnerships have been shared online.  Southwest is looking to incorporate social media feedback to source ideas for additional social enterprise phases of the program, solidifying its commitment to its network and to promoting community. 


In its 44th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually.  Southwest and wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways operate nearly 3,600 flights a day, serving 93 destinations across the United States and five additional countries.  Service to San Jose, Costa Rica, begins in March 2015, subject to government approvals.

Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, a majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi connectivity while over the United States that enables video-on-demand and a free, live TV offering of 13 channels compliments of DISH.  Bags Fly Free® at Southwest Airlines (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply), and there are never change fees, although fare differences might apply. In September 2014, the airline proudly unveiled Heart, a new aircraft livery, airport experience, and logo, showcasing the dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.

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