Southwest Airlines, Fortune Magazine’s Top 10 most admired corporations for the last 11 years and Forbes’ magazine’s No. 1 airline in 2003 and 2004 as far as innovation, financial soundness, employee talent, quality of management, use of corporate assets, long-term investments, social responsibility and quality products/services are concerned, is the corporate world’s greatest contribution to America’s aviation industry.
Three years after its birth on June 18, 1971 in Dallas, Texas, within three years of its maiden flight it has served more than a million customers through its low-fare, no frills pricing policy that allowed more Americans to travel by air among cities and between states. From the initial four planes, the company grew profitably that by November 2007 its fleet comprised 515 jet planes that have transported more than 96. 3 million passengers. From a total revenue of $9.1 billion it made a profit of $499 million in 2006.
From the initial workforce of 195 employees after its first year, the airline has more than 36,000 employees as of 2004 and in 2006 hired 3,363 new workers, selected from more than 285,000 applicants (http//. www. southwest. com) How policies affected employment growth? Southwest Airlines, being the largest air carrier and No. 1 in the 90 of the top 100 markets in the United States, attracts the best potential employees.
Its policy of profit sharing, the first airline company to offer such benefits to employees in 1973, attracts the cream of the crop. And because the company encouraged most of its employees to be members of labor unions, workers are protected and assured of their continuous employment with the company. The company’s No Limit internship program attracts college graduates because being an intern they can travel to 64 cities in 32 states in the country and anywhere else where its planes fly for free.
The program exposes the interns to the real world of aviation. And being Fortune’s most admired companies since 1997, Southwest Airlines provide prestige to its employees. Its motto that says “ We take the competition seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously,” encourages workers to be smart, efficient, dedicated, enjoy their work and serve its customers with humor. The company also gives importance to its customers and employees that contributed to its meteoric growth.
The company considers the worker’s attitude toward work, first and his commitment, next to his credentials and ability. Its mission is “ dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit. Above all employees will be provided the same concern, respect and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Airline customer. ” (http://www. southwest. com. about_swa/mission. html)
How its policies affected its growth? What contributed to the company’s growth is its policy toward customer satisfaction. They listen to their customers. They offer service with fun. They even go to the extent of singing cabin instructions to make the flight fun and enjoyable. The company offers convenience that a passenger can transact business with the airline through his laptop or desktop at home or in the office. The company’s ticket-less policy makes it very convenient to fly anywhere in the United States.
Because the company exercises responsible citizenship, people appreciate its charitable work, particularly supporting the Ronald McDonald’s House of charity, its beneficiary.. Herb Keller, 74, company founder and chairman, summarizes the company’s philosophy: “Respect people for who they are, not for what their titles are. ” Other factors that contributed to its growth are the implementation of its objectives: Be the best place for work, safest and most efficient place, to offer convenient schedule to passengers, provide unique travel experience and provide low cost, low fares flights.
It is also the objective of the company to develop the “warrior spirit, servant heart and fun-loving attitude” of every employee. How policies affect product pricing? Because the company offers different bundling fare packages—business select, business and wanna get away—any traveler from any income bracket could choose his class or the time of his travel with a given budget. A passenger could fly with $49 but not more than $99 one way by booking between seven days and 14 days advance or earlier than his scheduled flight.