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...