Southwest Airlines Spreads its Wings
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
The Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways merger was first announced on September 27, 2010 and approved in April of 2011. On May 2, 2011 Southwest Airlines completed the deal with AirTran Airways, an Atlanta based airline.Since the two companies merged they have actively been discussing the possibility of broadening their horizons beyond domestic air travel and adding more flights to new international and domestic locations.
On October 1, 2012 Southwest Airlines landed its first flight at Des Moines International Airport. On Monday, October 22 Southwest reported that in April 2013 it would add nonstop routes to and from Charlotte, NC; Rochester, NY; Flint, MI; and Portland, Maine. Also on October 22, it announced that, depending on pending government approval, it would add flights into Punta Cana, Dominican Republic starting on April 14.
On September 25, flight attendants met and agreed on a contract that would add a flight from Orange County, CA to Hawaii. The contract was approved but no plans have been publicly announced. By the end of 2012 Southwest will have a total of 33 737-800 aircraft. These planes allow the airline to fly longer flights more economically, which would allow the airline the opportunity to expand to even more destinations.
On Tuesday, November 29, 2011 AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, filed for bankruptcy due to high fuel prices paired with less travel demand. “The world changed around us,” said Chief Executive Tom Horton (according to reuters.com) “It became increasingly clear that the cost gap between us and our competitors was untenable.” Southwest still remains the only major airline that has not filed for bankruptcy. “Southwest's extraordinary customer service breeds loyalty and proves how you treat your customers directly affects the bottom line,” said Brookes Thomas, the communications specialist at Southwest who specializes in emerging media platforms.
Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) was established in Dallas, TX in 1967 by Rollin King and Herb Kelleher. Their goal was to provide low cost flights within Texas including Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Since the company was founded, it has expanded to 41 states, merged with AirTran and promised the best in customer service. Also, as of June 5, 2011 it is the largest airline in the United States based on passengers. “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit,” according to southwest.com. Southwest Airlines still continues to see growth.
As of August 2012 the airline has more than 46,000 employees and operates more than 3,400 flights per day with hubs in 103 different locations in the U.S. It is known for its exceptional customer satisfaction ratings and for many years ranked the lowest U.S. airline in customer complaints. “If you need to know one thing about SWA, it is the amazing culture we have built over the years,” said Stuart Fisher, a customer relations representative.
The current economic environment has had a small impact on the company. High fuel costs are always a challenge but Southwest has seen 39 consecutive years of profitability. “We continue to look for ways to keep our traditionally low-cost brand lean and mean,” said Thomas.
On Thursday, July 19, 2012 Southwest reported its 2012 second quarter results. Excluding special items, its second quarter net income was $273 million, up from $121 million. Revenues rose 11.6 percent to 4.6 million from 4.1 million “We are very pleased to report second quarter net income, excluding special items, that more than doubled second quarter last year,” said Gary C. Kelly, chairman of the board and president and chief executive officer, in the 8K earnings press release. This was a record quarterly profit.