Case Study Southwest Airlines

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According to the case study, Texas based Southwest airlines was considered the most admired and profitable airline company in the US. Southwest flew more than 64 million passengers (pax) a year to about 58 cities in 30 states. Since 2001, the entire US airline industry performed poorly and reported a loss of $17.7 billion. Whereas, Southwest’s financial performance remained strong. Its stock was nearly doubled in last five years. Due to terrorist attacks in September 2001, more than 70,000 workers laid off.
In the case study, we studied how major US air carriers like American, United, Northwest, Continental and Delta etc grounded a total of 240 aircrafts. In comparison, Southwest had not downsized a single employee and instead added more routes
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Serving the cities of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio the first advertisement of the airline was “make love not war”. The airline considered itself as a low cost, point to point carrier and took trains, buses and cars as its major competitors. In starting, Southwest aircrafts were flown to airports that were underutilized and close to a metropolitan area so that delays could be minimized and reduced total trip time. Soon, Southwest achieved quicker turnaround times and could offer multiple flights to particular route.
The most important trick of the company was use of same type of aircraft i.e. Boeing 737. Use of the same aircraft simplified flight operations, maintenance and training activities. Southwest started point to point service as well for business and pleasure travelers. Each pax holding a reservation was given a reusable plastic boarding pass and were collected for the use in the next flight. Standby pax were also boarded if seats were available. These different techniques of the airline reduced the boarding time and helped the airline maintain its schedule. Passengers were satisfied because they were provided point to point service and in the end were being served the purpose of taking flight that is reaching its destination quickly and on time. The airline estimated that meals would add extra value to the cost of the flight so it offered pax only beverages and light snacks. Aerated drinks were available for purchase.
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A culture committee was also set up to defuse the Southwest spirit culture. The committee consisted of committed team leaders from different levels of organisation. One of the first result of the committee was a series of culutral exchanges. After a few years, back to basics programs was also concieved. Southwest launched “walk a mile” program according to which employees were invited to volunteer a day off, to work with colleagues from their usual function. To induce participation in this program, airline promised free ticktes to volunteers. This wasy jobs were exchanged to know the work load of other departments as well for a day. Senior executives performed the tasks of baggage handling, boarding or even reservation to know the nitty-gritty of the
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