In 2014, Southwest Airlines was the market share leader in domestic air travel in the United States. Widely known for its low fares and pleasing customer service, Southwest transported more passengers from U.S. airports to U.S. destinations than any other airline, and it offered more regularly scheduled domestic flights than any other airline. Southwest also had the enviable distinction of being the only major air carrier in the U.S. that was consistently profitable, having reported a profit every year since 1973. This case sets forth Southwest's strategy, then describes in some detail all the various policies, practices and operating approaches that management has employed to implement and execute the strategy. Southwest's values and culture are also covered in some depth. It is a terrific vehicle for exposing students to implementing and executing a low-cost leadership strategy and how core values and a strategy-supportive corporate culture can be deeply planted.
Prepare a case study analysis examining the recovery strategy of Southwest Airlines and its strategy going forward. Consider the following issues in your analysis:
• What you found impressive about Southwest Airlines.
• How you would grade Southwest management for developing the airline's strategic vision.
• The key policies, procedures, operating practices, and core values underlying Southwest's efforts to implement their low-cost/no frills strategy.
• The key elements of the culture created at Southwest.
• Gary Kelly's leadership style.
• Any problems or weaknesses in Southwest Airlines strategy.
• The acquisition of AirTran
• Any recommendations to Southwest executives for the company going forward