An Assessment of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Southwest Airlines Essay

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An Assessment of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Southwest Airlines
Company Overview

Southwest Airlines began operations in 1971, with the company's initial service taking place between Dallas, Texas, Houston, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas (Southwest Airlines, 2006). Rollin King and Herb Kelleher started the company with a simple mission focused on being different than other airlines; their chief focus was to provide on time flights at a low cost, along with a bit of fun (Southwest Airlines). As Welch (2005) argued, Southwest Airlines was the world's richest and most profitable airline, illustrating the success the company enjoyed as a result of a simple, yet practical strategy. Hill & Jones (2004) explained that an emergent strategy
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As a result of this process, Southwest had an amiable system in place to select the best candidates to hire; however, the company placed as much weight on one's attitude as they did aptitude when making hiring decisions (Trustees of Dartmouth College). As a result of Southwest's unique and carefully planned hiring approach, it has been able to create a working culture that is well established and ensures the company will have happy employees for years to come, which in turn generates happy customers.

Southwest Airlines competitive advantage is also based on its ability to focus on delivering a quality experience for its customers. As Answers Corporation (2007) argued that Southwest's focus on offering low prices in lieu of in-flight meals and baggage transfers redefined customer's perceptions of airline travel, placing it on par with the cost of driving a similar trip distance. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (2006) suggested that Southwest started a trend among other airlines based on cost-conscious, low-frills air transportation. As a result of Southwest's approach, it has redefined how many consumers perceive air travel. Binggeli & Pompeo (2002) discussed how Southwest Airlines low cost approach has spurred a number of low cost airline startups in Europe. Short's Travel Management (2006) reported that the average price for a domestic airline ticket in the