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Southwest unveils new logo, design for planes

Many of the airplanes overhead in the Baltimore region could start looking a bit different soon, as Southwest Airlines unveiled a new logo and design for its aircraft Monday.

The Dallas-based airline is the largest carrier in and out of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in Anne Arundel County, operating more than 70 percent of the flights along with subsidiary AirTran.

The new red, yellow and blue logo is in the shape of a heart, meant to convey the people-first ethos long espoused publicly by the airline, it said.

"Our collective heartbeat is stronger and healthier than ever, and that's because of the warmth, the compassion, and the smiles of our people," said Gary Kelly, the company's president and CEO, in a statement. "The heart emblazoned on our aircraft, and within our new look, symbolizes our commitment that we'll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future."

Kelly also said in a letter posted on the company's website that it "was time for a new visual expression of our brand" following several major changes in recent years — including the acquisition of AirTran, expansions in major markets including Washington, and the launch of international service out of BWI and other major hubs.

The color scheme and design changes are the first for Southwest's aircraft since 2001.

The airline said it expects to have 60 aircraft updated with the new look by the end of the year, and that the rest of its fleet would follow. Its look and signage at airports will be converted by 2016.

Officials at BWI welcomed the new look for the airline on the social media website Twitter, tweeting out a picture of the new aircraft design and writing, "We look forward to seeing it at #BWI!"

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