History Of Southwest Airlines ' Operations Management

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History of Southwest Airlines’ Operations Management Founded in 1971, Southwest Airlines is a low cost carrier that last year celebrated 41 consecutive years of profitability by posting record earnings in 2014 (PRNewswire, 2014). While its main competitive advantage is being able to provide service at a lower cost than other airlines, it also is able to differentiate itself from competitors through excellent customer service and through response in the form of rapid airport turn-around times and a larger number of flight options than its competitors. There are two main constants that have been critical to its success. From a corporate culture standpoint, the company values and empowers employees at all levels, creating a favorable labor relations climate. From an operations standpoint, the company has maintained the same strategic focus in four key areas that have kept the profits rolling in despite external upheavals, such as spikes in fuel prices, mega-mergers that solidified competition, and even the financial meltdown of 2008 and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which saw drastic cutbacks in both business and leisure discretionary travel (Mutzabaugh, 2014). This paper will provide an overview of the company’s operating philosophy and explain how those four key areas relate to its overall strategy. Background Southwest began in 1971 with three planes serving only three cities in Texas, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Those three planes were Boeing 737s, and they were one of

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