Southwest Airlines Business Operations
Southwest Airlines continues growth during challenging times with no its low price, no frills and good customer satisfaction, setting themselves apart from the competition. Organizational change is part of the culture that successfully allows Southwest Airlines to set itself apart. The airline industry is subject to external forces such as fuel prices, labor costs, passenger economic status, and public perception. Southwest Airlines has developed a successful business model based on standardization and efficiency that has allowed them to keep operating costs low and as predictable as possible. There is still a certain segment of the public that needs, or has a desire, to fly as their mode of transportation. Through the use of internal control processes Southwest Airlines continues to increase passenger satisfaction and ridership by fostering a unique organizational culture that is adaptable and open to change. Southwest Airlines has amazingly been able to do this and “the carrier has enjoyed 37 straight profitable years amid the airline industry's ups and downs” (Southwest, 2009). Additionally, Southwest Airlines takes pride in setting itself apart from the competition, offering services that make them seem completely different from their competitors. Some of those things are: the use of only one type of aircraft, one type of seating accommodations, upfront pricing without added fees, and not charging for checked baggage. While many air travelers do not like the limited service that keeps Southwest Airlines ticket prices low, others are willing to take less service if they are saving on the ticket price. History
Founded in 1971, by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, Southwest Airlines was originally incorporated as a low cost regional airline that would provide service to three cities in Texas: Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. They had the idea that if they could offer the speed and convenience of air service at a price competitively near that of driving, or bus service then they could win over customers. “If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline” ("We weren’t just,"). From the beginning Southwest Airlines business model was to use one type aircraft, flying multiple flights per day into major cities while avoiding the high priced and crowded major airports. “Southwest prospered by offering low fares to leisure travelers whose only other affordable option was a car trip. It flew primarily to America's secondary airports where costs are low and productivity is high because incoming planes can land, drop off passengers, take on the next group and get back in the air quickly” (Koenig, 2009). Single Type Aircraft
“The company’s success had been built on a simple business model, operating the same type of Boeing 737 planes at a higher frequency between smaller airports” (Casey, 2010). The use of one type of aircraft for the entire company has many advantages. First, all of the crews, pilots and flight attendants are only required to be initially trained once. The cost savings of all of Southwest Airlines crews being able to operate the equipment in any part of the country prevents aircraft sitting on the ground due to lack of a qualified crew. There is a saying among airline pilots that “airplanes don’t make money sitting on the ground”. The single type of aircraft also translates to saving on the maintenance side for Southwest Airlines as well. The mechanics only have to be qualified on a single type of aircraft, and stocking for spare parts is simplified. Second, with the smaller Boeing 737’s they are able to land at smaller airports and use closer parking and jet ways. Lastly, the ground turnaround times for the smaller airplanes are much faster not only for passenger boarding, but fuel, baggage, and beverage restocking as well. I...
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