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Southwest Airline Case - Essay Example

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Southwest Airline Case

Southwest Airlines' success story was definitely not an easy business venture to accomplish because, as a new entrant in the airline industry way back in the seventies, they had to battle out large and well-established airline companies such as Continental Air just to be able to gain shares in the market and also, they even have to unfortunately adhere on to (unfair) state policies, one of which was the so-called Wright Amendment, whose alleged intention was to slow down Southwest's progress ["Southwest Airlines (A)" p.53]. But despite all the obstacles hindering their company growth, Southwest's strategy in confronting this dilemma however, under the leadership of Herb Keller the company's CEO, was to give more focus into improving its services more for their customers' satisfaction and delight rather than be provoked and get depressed by the imposed threats of their competitors. Among the other winning strategies that Southwest have fostered, which eventually spring-boarded their competitiveness, were to fly to airports that are underutilized and close to a metropolitan area (convenient for tourists and especially for business travelers), frequent on-time departures and arrivals, non-stop flying (from point-of-origin to destination), faster turnarounds (meaning, more time flying in the air than being on the ground), of course having low-cost fares which obviously is very attractive to customers, and best of all, their unsurpassed quality customer service ["Southwest Airlines (A)" p.55].
But to give emphasis on the major competitive advantage of Southwest against all of their competitors is their cost-saving structure because of their longer or non-stop flying strategy than doing short-haul flying ["Southwest Airlines (A)" p.57], which means, whenever a Southwest plane takes off, it lands directly to its point-of-destination therefore, they spend less on gate handling costs compared to doing a stop over. In connection with that, Southwest also derives its cost advantage from the remarkable productivity it gets from its work force. Examples of these would be fewer people handling the gates of Southwest whenever it lands, seven people or even less, but accomplishing the same task with quality attached to it compared to twelve or more people doing the same kind of job on other airlines; Southwest's pilots fly more hours in the air given a lesser compensation compared to other pilots from other airlines and they even help flight attendants clean the aircraft and check passengers at the gates; also, all of Southwest employees also routinely volunteer to help customers in whatever concern they have (e.g. taking good care of a passenger's dog so he could have a good time on his holidays; or, even accompanying an elderly passenger to the next stop just to make sure he could change planes) ["Southwest Airlines (A)" p.57]. Stories like these about Southwest spread very quickly and these are the trait which makes up the "Southwest culture".
Good leadership in any kind of organization helps keep the company intact and focused on their goals. Under the Herb Kelleher, he always demonstrated a ...Show more


The competition among the local American airline industry - that is, being fought over by top airline carriers such as Southwest, United, Continental, Delta, and many others - is primarily a battle that is all about corporate strategic positioning where each company's own competitive advantage plays a vital key to their success and becoming the market leader in the airline industry…
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