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The Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Co. is an American low-cost airline. Southwest is the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried per year (as of 2009). Southwest maintains the third-largest passenger fleet of aircraft among all of the world's commercial airlines. As of May 3, 2009, Southwest operates approximately 3,510 flights daily. Southwest has its headquarters on the grounds of Love Field in Dallas, Texas.

Southwest Airlines has carried more customers than any other U.S. airline since August 2006 for combined domestic and international passengers according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Southwest Airlines is one of the world's most profitable airlines, posting a profit for the 37th consecutive year in January 2010.

Southwest's successful business model involves flying multiple short, quick trips into the secondary (more efficient and less costly) airports of major markets, and using only one aircraft type, the Boeing 737.

The Southwest Effect

The success and profitability of Southwest's business model led to a common trend being named after the company, the Southwest Effect. Since Southwest's original mission in Texas was to make it less expensive than driving between two points (in the early 1970s, during the first major energy cost crisis in the U.S.), it developed a template for entering markets at rates that allowed the airline to be profitable, yet only on the basis of lean operations and high aircraft use. The key concept to the Southwest Effect is that when a low-fare carrier (or any aggressive and innovative company) enters a market, the market itself changes, and usually grows dramatically. For example, when fares drop by 15% from their historical averages, the number of new customers in that market may not just double, but actually quadruple, or more.

Southwest has been a major inspiration to other low-cost airlines, and its business model has been repeated many times around the world. Europe's EasyJet and Ryanair are two of the best known airlines to follow Southwest's business strategy in that continent (though EasyJet operates two different aircraft models today). Other airlines with a business model based on Southwest's system include Canada's WestJet, Malaysia's AirAsia (the first and biggest LCC in Asia), Sir Richard Branson's and Australia's Virgin Blue (although Virgin Blue now operates two aircraft types), Qantas's Jetstar (although Jetstar now operates two aircraft types), Thailand's Nok Air, New Zealand's Freedom Air, Mexico's Volaris and Turkey's Pegasus Airlines. Although Southwest has been a major inspiration to many other airlines including Ryanair, AirAsia and Jetstar, the management strategies, for example, of Ryanair, AirAsia and Jetstar differ significantly from those of Southwest.

Goals and Objectives

History of Southwest Airline

Southwest Airlines Mission and Vision Statement



New Mission Statement

Southwest Airlines is a company that is for anyone and every that wants to get from point A to point B by flying. Our service and philosophy is to fly safe, with high frequency, low-cost flights that can get passengers to their destinations on time and often closer to their destination. They fly in 58 cities and 30 states and are the world's largest short-haul carrier and we make sure that it is run efficiently and in an economical way. Their technology is current such as our check-ins process is faster. Striving to expand and grow in a conservative manner is key, and being financially stable by keeping quality high and cost low. Their excellence is managing cost by our rapid twenty-minute gate turnaround, a non-stop flight with our airplanes, and a more productive workforce which keeps above our competitors. They treat our employees like customers, family and motivate and compensate them for doing a job well done. They continue to be in the Fortune Magazine's most admired companies (2nd in 2002) 100 best companies to work for. Since 1972 we have ranked first in Money Magazines featured in "The 30 Best Stocks." In their communities they make donations to charities to organizations and people in time of need.

New Vision Statement


Morris Air

One airline influenced by Southwest was Morris Air, founded in 1984 by June Morris and David Neeleman, based in Utah and operating in the northwestern U.S. Southwest Airlines purchased Morris Air and absorbed the capital and routes into its inventory and service. David Neeleman worked with Southwest for a short period. When his non-compete agreement expired, Neeleman founded JetBlue Airways, a competing airline that also incorporates (and in some ways, improves upon) many principles and practices pioneered by Southwest, including building a positive, warm employee culture and operating a simple fleet.

Muse Air

Southwest Airlines has mostly pursued a strategy of internal growth, rather than by acquisition of other airlines as commonly occurs. However, in addition to acquisition of Morris Air Transport (see above), Southwest did acquire competitor Muse Air in 1985, which operated McDonnell Douglas MD-80s. Muse Air was renamed TranStar Airlines. TranStar Airlines was then closed in August 1987.

ATA Airlines

Towards the end of November 2008, Southwest announced it was buying the operating certificate and the remaining assets of ATA Airlines. This acquisition transferred to Southwest Airlines ownership of New York LaGuardia slots formerly controlled by ATA. The transaction did not include any aircraft, facilities or employees of ATA.

Political: -

Economic: - When economic conditions are unfavorable:

Social: -

Technological: -

Environmental: -

Legal: -

Porter's 5 forces Model

Rivalry among competitors: - There is high competition for Southwest airlines because other airlines are also there in US which are providing same services to the customers. Its main competitors are United airlines, Alaska airlines etc.

Rivalry among competitors sets the price-Southwest Airlines is a discount airliner. Rivalry is increasing, as the market decreases, and competitors downsize, the competitors become more or less equal in size and capacity. This means that as economic conditions worsen, competitors downsize and then compete for the same remaining market.

Threats of new entry: - The threat of new entrants is low, the demand is not high. On top of that, there are hurdles, not necessarily the greatest; the FAA. Government regulations and restrictions imposed on those involved in this industry. Such would be government sanctions consequent of international issues.

Threats of substitutes: - Threats of substitutes is very high because many other form of transportation such as high speed trains, video conferencing, buses etc. While these alternates cannot offer the speed of travel, most of Southwest Airlines' customers are attracted to the low price.

Bargaining power of Buyers: - The bargaining power of buyers is very high because many other airlines are present for which passengers can opt for instead of Southwest airlines.

Suppliers include those who provide service/products necessary for Southwest Airlines to their business function. For Southwest Airlines, suppliers include mechanics (and other maintenance people), providers of fuel, food (the snacks that are offered). The suppliers do not have much bargaining power. Customers include both residential and commercial sectors. There is no bargaining power for customers, as there is no threat of backward integration; it is unlikely that customers of Southwest Airlines are going to build their own airplanes and fly themselves.

Bargaining power of suppliers: - The supplier's power is low for Southwest airlines because they have to charge the premium according to the strategy of competitors otherwise the passengers can switch off to the other airlines where he can have maximum benefits in terms of quality of service and the monetary value.

BCG Matrix

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix is a simple tool to assess a company's position in terms of its product range. It helps a company think About its products and services and make decisions about which it should keep which it should let go and which it should invest in further.

In 1970's, BCG experience curve work led to inside that has a significant impact on business thinking i.e. of rapid growth in market share was the important as the curve suggested then the usual approach resource allocation in which each business unit funded in on growth seems to be recipe for its failure.

Business with low market share but high potential would never generate enough cash to win the race down the experience curve. Those with the high market share but few changes of growth would generate far more cash than those would use productivity.

The BCG matrix can be diagrammatically represented as follow

Question Marks

Question marks are products that grow rapidly and as a result consume large amounts of cash, but because they have low market shares they don't generate much cash. The result is large net cash consumption. A question mark has the potential to gain market share and become a star, and eventually a cash cow when the market growth slows. If it doesn't become a market leader it will become a dog when market growth declines. Question marks need to be analysed carefully to determine if they are worth the investment required to grow market share.


Dogs have a low market share and a low growth rate and neither generates nor consumes a large amount of cash. However, dogs are cash traps because of the money tied up in a business that has little potential. Such businesses are candidates for divestiture.


Stars generate large sums of cash because of t heir strong relative market share, but also consume large amounts of cash because of their high growth rate. So the cash being spent and brought in approximately nets out. If a star can maintain its large market share it will become a cash cow when the market growth rate declines.

Cash Cows

As leaders in a mature market, cash cows exhibit a return on assets that is greater than the market growth rate ▒ so they generate more cash than they consume. These units should be Ámilked extracting the profits and investing as little as possible. They provide the cash required to turn question marks into market leaders.

Strategies for Southwest airlines

Ansoff Matrix

Market Penetration Strategy

Product Development

Market Development Strategy

Diversification strategy

SWOT Analysis of Southwest Airlines


Southwest has successfully adopted a cost leadership strategy.

The company has a reputation for great customer service.

The company has a strong, fun-loving, employee-oriented culture. The company's mission statement focuses on these aspects of the business.

The company's growth has been steady and planned. Southwest enters new markets only when they can achieve frequent flights.

The company's marketing focuses on its low prices, convenience service and sophisticated combination of advertising, public relation and promotions.


External Opportunities and Threats


There are opportunities for expansion to new markets.

The new Boeing 737-700 has the ability to fly longer distances nonstop, which may change the definition of "short haul".

Demographic trends appear favourable to an airline focusing on price and reliability.

The consumer continues to seek convenience and time savings. Flying, rather than driving, will meet that need if the price is right and the airline is reliable.

The competition is looking to international, rather than domestic markets, for growth opportunities.

Improved computer technology will allow more ticketless transactions and reservations made by PC.


Southwest's ability to hold the line on costs will impact its cost leadership position.

Government regulation could hinder Southwest's ability to control costs, control fares, or enter new markets.

Improved telecommunications may lower demand for air travel, or may lower demand for "discount" airlines.

Alternative forms of transportation, such as a high-speed railway, could weaken demand for air travel. Also, if the economy weakens, people may choose to drive rather than fly.

Southwest would be hurt if the public perception were that low price equates to low quality.

Competitive Advantage for Southwest airlines

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