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Southwest Airlines Takes Delivery of LEKTRO’s 5,300th Electric Towbarless Tug

Southwest Airlines Takes Delivery of LEKTRO’s 5,300th Electric Towbarless Tug

San Jose, CaliforniaLEKTRO, Inc. reached a milestone recently when Southwest Airlines took delivery of its 5,300th towbarless tug ever built. Southwest placed LEKTRO #5300 into service at its San Jose, CA (SJC) operation. To date, LEKTRO has produced more towbarless aircraft tractors than any other manufacturer in the world.


The tug, a Model AP8950SDB-AL-200, is the company’s second largest pushback model, and capable of handling aircraft up to 210,000 pounds such as the Boeing 737s Southwest Airlines flies. The model was introduced in 2014 at the request of airlines for a LEKTRO tug certified to handle the B737 and A320 families of aircraft.


Southwest Airlines honored LEKTRO as their 2016 Equipment Provider of the Year and has continued to purchase LEKTRO’s all-electric, towbarless tugs to ensure reliable, safe and emissions free aircraft pushbacks.


“Since starting this project with LEKTRO in 2014, Southwest has purchased 56 pushbacks and has converted 5 cities completely over to the LEKTRO product” said Larry Laney, Southwest Airlines Director of Ground Support. “LEKTRO and their Team have done an outstanding job making deliveries on time and after sales support. Based on the their performance to date, we are looking forward to working with LEKTRO in the future.”


The new units replaced Southwest’s conventional fossil-fueled tractor fleet at SJC. Their use will ensure safe and reliable pushback operations while lowering the overall carbon emissions at the airport. Most conventional pushback methods use combustion engine tractors which attach to the aircraft via a towbar. LEKTRO aircraft tugs are towbarless, eliminating the cost to procure and maintain towbars as well as eliminate the risk of injury to personnel associated with their use. LEKTRO tugs are also easier to operate and gentler on the aircraft. Additionally, LEKTRO vehicles are completely electric and only use energy when in motion or operating the hydraulics, making them very quiet and energy efficient.


“We are honored to have Southwest Airlines as one of our major customers and for their confidence in our products to handle their Boeing 737 fleet,” said LEKTRO President Eric Paulson.


Having invented the world’s first towbarless aircraft tug in 1967, LEKTRO has long been an industry leader. Currently their vehicles are in use in 93 countries across the globe. As a testament to their quality of construction and reliability, their second tug ever manufactured is still in operation (the first unit was recently taken out of service so could be displayed in LEKTRO’s Warrenton museum).


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Pictured (L to R) Eric Paulson, President/CEO of LEKTRO; Robert Alderete, SJC Station Manager, Ground Operations for Southwest Airlines; Larry Laney, GSE Director for Southwest Airlines; Don Redwine, Senior Manager-GSE Fleet and Reliability for Southwest Airlines; and John Salter, GSE Reliability & Warranty Manager for Southwest Airlines.



LEKTRO is an Oregon based company founded in 1945 that specializes in the design and manufacture of electric vehicles. LEKTRO founder Wilt Paulson invented the first towbarless tow vehicle in 1967, revolutionizing aircraft towing. Since then, LEKTRO has been the leading producer of all-electric towbarless aircraft tugs. Eric, his son, took over the company in 1985, overseeing the development of the larger, modern tugs LEKTRO builds today. LEKTRO has produced a wide variety of pioneering electric vehicles over its 73 year history, including the first electric mink feeder and the first electric golf cart, as well as forklifts and warehouse vehicles. A single family ownership has guaranteed uncompromising reliability and function in LEKTRO’s products as well as unsurpassed product support. See more of their products and history at


About Southwest Airlines Co:

In its 47th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 57,000 Employees to a Customer base topping 120 million passengers annually, in recent years. Southwest became the nation’s largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded. During peak travel seasons, Southwest operates more than 4,000 weekday departures among a network of 100 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries. Southwest has announced its intention to sell tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii, subject to requisite governmental approvals.

Southwest coined Transfarency® to describe its purposed philosophy of treating Customers honestly and fairly, and low fares actually staying low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some carriers offer free checked bags on select routes or in qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply.

As launch customer of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in North America, the Company operates the largest fleet in the world of Boeing aircraft, all of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi. Customers who connect to the WiFi network may use their personal devices to view on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV.

With a bold new look first unveiled in 2014, Southwest is progressing through a multi-year refresh of its fleet to showcase the carrier’s Heart: a new logo, aircraft livery, interior design featuring new seats, Employee-designed uniforms, and an updated airport experience, all of which showcase a dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.

From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “The Southwest Effect,” a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves. With 45 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier’s performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet.


Book Southwest Airlines’ low fares online at Southwest Airlines or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.


Media Contacts:

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Media Relations Team: or 214-792-4847, option 1


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