Environmental Analysis: Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is one of the most successful airlines in the United States. There has never been layoffs or strikes in the history of the company, although there were several times when layoffs could have been justified, including the months following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, Southwest's Mission statement says “Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.” (Southwest, 1988). The Airline has always believed that their corporate culture is one of the keys to their success. The culture recognizes that employees have emotional intelligence and that their attitudes and morale are key to the teamwork and creative environment.

Southwest Airlines is operating in an industry that is struggling to make profits. The slowing economic growth and raising fuel costs are lowering earnings while revenues remain the same. The macroeconomic factors affecting the airline industry include unemployment, the economic growth in the United States, and inflation. With low economic growth, consumers are finding luxury items more difficult to purchase and airline tickets for vacations fall into that category. Unemployment contributes to a lack of vacation travelers since individuals who are not employed do not have extra money for vacation or airline tickets. Inflation also causes operating costs of the airlines to be higher cutting into profits.

Unemployment is affecting the airline industry. Although unemployment in the United States is relatively low, the airline industries unemployment has been more volatile. As unemployment has risen, the airlines have laid off a much higher percentage of their people. As unemployment has fallen, they have hired back a large number. Layoffs among major airlines are not uncommon. Southwest is unique in its history of refusing to layoff any employees....
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