DALLAS - Southwest Airlines employees will enjoy a significant boost in compensation after the company announced a record profit share for 2015.
Each eligible employee will receive 15.6 percent of his or her yearly salary -- equivalent to eight weeks' pay -- as a bonus as part of the $620 million profit share. The money will be funded April 29.
2015 marks the third straight year the Dallas-based airline has contributed a record dollar amount in profit sharing, and brings the total profit share to $1.4 billion over the last five years.
"Behind every milestone Southwest Airlines has celebrated — and there have been many — our Employees are the driving force. I'm incredibly proud of the Teamwork and Heart behind every accomplishment," said Southwest Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly.
"Our People have built one of the world's most admired companies, and they share in Southwest's success with this third consecutive record-breaking profitsharing contribution."
Southwest recorded $2.2 billion in profits for 2015, due in large part to fuel costs nearly one-third lower than in 2014, at $3.6 billion for the year, according to a USA TODAY report.
The airline reported a 182 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income with $536 million.
Thursday's announcement also comes during an ongoing protest by the airline's pilots over pay levels and work rules they consider below industry standard. Pilots picketed earlier this month at Dallas-Love Field Airport, the first in the company's history.
The $620 million in profit sharing surpasses the total contribution made over the first 25 years of the plan ($559 million from 1974-1998). Southwest was the first airline to offer a profit sharing plan.
According to a release from Southwest, the company has dedicated over $1.6 billion to its employees “wealth and wellbeing” -- $945 million in retirement benefits and $672 million in other benefits.
Southwest, which employs over 49,000 people, has recorded 43 consecutive profitable years, the release states.