Southwest Airlines Internal Analysis

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Executive Summary
Southwest Airlines is one of the most profitable airlines in the airline industry. During turbulent economic times Southwest has managed to continue strong revenue growth in a disastrous environment and has operated profitably for 39 consecutive years (Mintzmyer, 2012). Southwest Airlines has capitalized on the company’s strength of being the top low cost carrier by offering a simple and efficient business plan that prides itself on customer service. Southwest utilizes only the Boeing 737 to streamline their processes, and utilizes their award winning Southwest.com to drive ticket sales. Southwest has begun to capitalize on future market opportunities by purchasing AirTran airways and is now capable of not only domestic travel, but traversing into the international travel market as well. This purchase allows Southwest to combat one of the company’s primary threats, with that being the tumultuous economy the industry has faced. The opportunities gained by the purchase of Airtran will allow the company to being capitalizing on the international market, and thus helping reduce the economic strain created by the reduction of domestic travel. Southwest has positioned itself as the top performing domestic carrier in the United States; however there are still areas where the company should focus attention. Utilizing one type of aircraft has allowed the company to streamline many of the daily tasks, however this also place the company at the mercy of their supplier and some of the union members. Southwest also only markets their products through their own internal eticketing system Southwest.com. The company should consider expanding their offerings through outside vendors. Overall for the 39thconsecutive year, Southeast was profitable, earning $178 million in 2011 and was consistently named one of the top domestic airline carriers and one of the overall airline companies in the industry by a variety of surveying companies. With major carriers like US Airways and Delta bankrupt or on the brink, and others cutting services to stay afloat, many travelers, including families, are turning to low-cost carriers and other smaller airlines to meet their travel needs (Feltner, 2012, para. 1). As a result Southwest Airlines has managed to become one of the top airlines in the domestic travel industry, and is consistently ranked as one of the top airline carriers in the entire airline industry by a variety of different sources. Southwest Airlines mission is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit (Southwest Airlines Co., 2012, para. 1). Southwest Airlines Co. CEO Gary Kelly (2012) said "Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring long-term competitive advantage." Many of those who have reviewed the success of Southwest have also pointed out the importance of not only the people of Southwest, but the success the management team of Southwest has had in directing the company’s steps. In the following we are going to look at the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of Southwest, as well as threats faced by the company. If previous performance and history is any type of indicator we should see that Southwest, as a company, is strategically sound and positioned to continue to grow in the future and remain an industry leader. As with any type of review that is undertaken, whether it is personal or professional, it is always a good practice to begin with a review of strengths. In this case we will begin with a review of the strengths of Southwest Airlines. In regards to a SWOT analysis of Southwest Airlines the strengths aspect is undoubtedly the most straight forward of all the categories and is the most simplistic to identify. Southwest Airlines focuses on simplicity, efficiency, and fun and delights its customers with a less-conventional service than its competitors where the end result...
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