With record profits, Southwest Airlines announced it will give its shareholders more money each quarter.
At its annual shareholder meeting in Houston, Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said the Dallas-based carrier will increase its quarterly dividend to 7.5 cents per share, up from 6 cents per share.
“It is not dramatic to say that Southwest was transformed in 2014,” Kelly said pointing to the company’s record financial results and expansions at Washington Reagan and Dallas Love Field airports.
The company’s board also authorized a new $1.5 billion stock repurchase program as it recently completed a $1.1 billion stock repurchase program in 2014.
Southwest said it plans to receive 19 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and take delivery of 19 pre-owned Boeing 737-700 aircraft in 2015. For the following year, it has firm orders for 31 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and intends to take delivery of four pre-owned Boeing 737-700s.
Outside of the meeting, several Southwest ramp workers picketed to raise awareness about their contract negotiations. The workers have been in contract talks with Southwest for almost four years and have not reached an agreement on wages, healthcare costs and staffing issues. Southwest recently announced plans to hire an additional 500 ramp workers to help with staffing shortages.