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GARRISON & KELLER
MOVING YOU FORWARD
5567 Beechmont Avenue • Cincinnati, OH 45276 • (513) 998-3000 • jgarrison@garrisonkeller.com

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
CASE STUDY
I. COMPANY OVERVIEW
Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”) is a major U.S. airline that primarily provides short
haul, high-frequency, point-to-point, low-fare service. Southwest was incorporated in
Texas and commenced operations on June 18, 1971 with three Boeing 737 aircraft
serving three Texas citiesDallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Today Southwest operates
nearly 400 Boeing 737 aircraft to 59 U.S. cities. Southwest has the lowest operating cost
structure in the domestic airline industry and consistently offers the lowest and simplest
fares. Southwest also has one of the best overall customer service records. LUV is
Southwest’s NYSE symbol, selected to represent the company’s home at Dallas Love
Field, as well as the theme of Southwest’s employee and customer relationships
(Southwest Airlines Investor Relations statement at www.southwest.com. 10/10/04).
For fiscal 2003 Southwest Airlines achieved revenues totaling $5,937 million, an increase
of 7.5% on 2002 revenues of $5,741 million. The company’s business is divided into
three distinct areas: Passengers, Freight, and Other, which respectively accounted for
96.7%, 1.6%, and 1.7% of 2003 revenues (www.datamonitor.com, 10/10/04).

II. CURRENT SITUATION
A. Current Performance
Overall, Southwest’s performance in recent years has been outstanding. The company’s
ROI has been steadily increasing, and Southwest has consistently ranked first in market
share in 80-90 percent of its top 100 city-pair routes. Its airline industry market share in
2000 was 9.4%. despite being in an industry that is characterized by “vulnerability to
economic cycles and big swings in bottom-line performance,” Southwest has been
profitable every year since 1973. It posted a growth rate of 1.0% in 2000, up from .5% in
1999.
Operating expenses: Consolidated...

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