Auburn University School of Aviation and Southwest Airlines form career pathway partnership

Southwest Airlines Captain Lee Kinnebrew, vice president, Flight Operations, and Auburn University School of Aviation Director James Witte were on hand for the formal announcement of Auburn joining the Destination 225˚ program. (Auburn University)

Auburn University’s School of Aviation announced this week, it will become the newest university partner to join the Southwest Airlines Destination 225° pilot recruitment program.

The partnership aligns Auburn’s growing School of Aviation with the popular Dallas, Texas based airline which served 123 million passengers in 2021.

How the Partnership Works

The Southwest Airlines Destination 225° University Pathway is for individuals interested in pursuing their university degree while building postgraduate flight instruction time within their college’s flight program, with the goal of becoming 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 with a job placement rate near 100 percent.

Meaningful Careers After Graduating Auburn

Representatives from Southwest Airlines, Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts and School of Aviation celebrated the institution’s partnership with the global carrier along with Auburn Aviation students on Monday, Jan. 23. (Auburn University)

“We are committed to providing students with experiential learning and opportunities to make an impact in the world after their days on the Plains,” said Auburn President Christopher B. Roberts. “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.”

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. 

Next Generation of Professional Pilots

“We’re thrilled to welcome Auburn University as a partner in Southwest’s Destination 225˚  Program,” said Lee Kinnebrew, Vice President of 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.”

Other schools nationally participating in Southwest Destination 225° include:

  • Angelo State University
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • The University of Oklahoma
  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University 
  • Texas Southern University

Additional Info

More details about Destination 225° and the program’s training and flying partners are available at

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

Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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