The deregulation of the United States domestic civil aviation industry in 1978 saw airlines begin to compete freely. However, the capital-intensive nature of the business, along with undifferentiated products and services, has led to 120 airline bankruptcies since then. In the light of this context, Southwest's ability to compete is particularly interesting as it has not only continued to expand, but has been the only one to earn a profit every year since 1973 (Freiberg, 1998, p. 4-5).
Today, Southwest is the fourth largest major airline in America, flying more than 64 million passengers a year to 58 cities (Southwest Airlines, 2002). Southwest attributes its success to its unique business model of rock bottom fares, low costs, and outrageous customer service that entails getting passengers and their baggage to their destinations on time and ensuring that they have some fun along the way (Peters, 1998, p. xiv). This...
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