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Southwest now #1 US Airline

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Southwest now #1 US Airline

Old 31st Oct 2001, 02:36
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Post Southwest now #1 US Airline

CNBC's Joe Kernen (sp?) said this morning that Southwest Airlines market cap is higher than all of the other US carriers COMBINED... Looks like SW is now number one.
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Old 31st Oct 2001, 09:40
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Alchemy-That is easy to believe. In contrast to Continental Airlines, which supposedly owns the smallest percentage of its total fleet compared to the other US majors, Southwest for years has had the unbeatable advantage of having most of its 737s (and many with fuel-efficient high-bypass turbofans) paid for.

Southwest has at least two more major advantages: a fairly common fleet type (pilot tng and spare parts), consisting of various 737 series and its route structure has no significant hub and spoke network, which allows each plane to fly more hours per day.

A Southwest FO is not required to do a walk-around after the first preflight, which definitely slows down other airline turn-around times at spoke airports, further worsening late arrivals, as we all hurry a bit in order to return back to the hub and flood it with passengers: didn't the ancient Romans call their colosseum exit gates 'vomitoria'? After arriving even later at our hubs, we almost always hurry across a large airport in order to change planes, precious time which could be spent on a short preflight for the same plane (we have just left)! Even flying the same series of jet! Further nonsense, delaying the next hub departure time at a distant gate even more...barer Unsinn, ganz beschissen wie immer.

[ 31 October 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]
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Old 31st Oct 2001, 17:31
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I'll through my two cents in. I have flown Southwest a number of times. My only complaint is the boarding process- if they added a dipping trough I probably wouldn't notice! Mooooo! Get it?

That aside- the service prior and once onboard compares well with any other US airline, primarily on short flights. Watching those 737s come in unload-load and go is pretty amazing.

I'll probably be flying more Southwest down the road.

Have safe trips.
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Old 31st Oct 2001, 20:30
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Hardly surprising in this new world where (and please correct me if I'm wrong here), Ryanair is worth more than BA, and is second only to Lufthansa in market capitalisation amoungst European airlines...

[ 31 October 2001: Message edited by: Oleo ]
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Old 31st Oct 2001, 21:32
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Southwest were one of the few airlines to stil post profits during the downturn of the early 90s, si it is no surprise that they have managed it again. They keep costs at a minimum, motivate employees through profit sharing etc. A winning formula, one that Ryanair has copied to near perfection.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 10:11
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Whether Pprune readers choose to admit this fact to themselves or not, Southwest has been heavily unionized for quite a long time.

Thank God Southwest never invaded our southern hub, or the smaller airport just across the river (in a different state)! Someone from our local Airport Authority went to another city "nearby" and counted certain license plates in the airport parking lot, in order to find out how many people (cars) from this county drove three hours or more east on the interstate highway, in order to save a bit of money on tickets. Clever.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 21:54
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Southwest certainly is an amazing airline.

I fly them quite a bit and have generally never had any major problems. About the only thing that comes to memory is a transfer between flights at Houston Hobby during a bad thunderstorm with the airport being shut down temporarily. And that wasn't their fault. Hobby is part of the DAL-HOU shuttle corridor and things must go haywire quickly during severe weather when all those planes dispatched at half-hour intervals can't land or take off.

The lesson to be learned from Southwest, and hasn't gotten through to a lot of the rivals, is to keep your equipment moving and making money. Time spent sitting on the tarmac is money thrown away. Interesting that the United Shuttle is apparently biting the dust. I thought they were about to give Southwest some serious competition.

Now if we could just get Southwest to serve DEN (DIA?) or COS and MSP. Gotta crack some more of those monopolies of the majors!

[ 01 November 2001: Message edited by: ONTpax ]
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 22:18
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WS announced today its results for end of third quarter.

Net earnings for third of 2001 were up 32.1% over third of 2000, from $10.4M CAD to $13.8M CAD.

Load factor for the quarter decreased nominally from 81.5% to 81.1%.

Diluted earnings per share rose 26.1% from third of 2000 to third of 2001, from $0.23 CAD to $0.29 CAD.

Given that UAL just posted a US$1.16 billion loss for this quarter, I think that this tends to show that the age of the full service, all things to all people airline is well and truly over and that the future lies with the low cost carriers.
Old 2nd Nov 2001, 01:53
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your last paragraph is so wildly all-encompassing that it has gone off the mark. Since when can you see SWA operating LAX-HKG or LHR-MBJ or anything else over 2-hour sector length? Try sitting in y-class on a crowded 747-400 with just nuts for 14 hours. I don't think so.

You presumably were trying to have another jab a the "high-pay" pilots of the big-3 domestic carriers in the US, in your own un-subtle way. You're hinting that high fixed costs mean no more business, in the CURRENT economic climate. But of course, if the economy turns around, as it will, the business traveller will return - and he/she would much rather fly direct LAX-MIA with a meal and service, than stop every State; even more so after an international connection.

SWA do a fine job of getting Joe-average-on-a-leisure-budget airborne, but try it with 3 young kids going a long distance, a lot of bags, etc. Tough task.

We joke about them providing mass travel to the trailer-parks of the US, but at the moment if you're saving money, their fares are attractive, and they are used to squeezing yield out of low fares. The big 3 are not. You simply cannot operate a 777 like a 737. Period. Apart from anything else, the airframe is built for far fewer life cycles. You might want to tidy-up your posting....
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 08:20
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Yes Southwest does a good job of keeping costs down, offering lowfare alternatives and treating people just as well as they pay for. To say that the end of full service flights is near is pure rubbish just like saying everyone in the world will now drive only VW's as they are the cheapest. My main objection to Southwest is that the boarding process penlaizes the typical business traveller by awarding the opportunity for the better seats to thos who show up at the airport very early. In addition being packed into a narrow body 737 no matter how new with as many of you fellow travellers for any lenght of time over two hours qualifies for cruel and unusual status.

Congrats to them for being successful, but don't sell the rest of us short. Just because the typical pax is CHEAP and not willing to pay for a quality experience does not mean all must descend to the lowest common denominator!

Take Midwest Express as an example of an airline that provides full service biz class seating and attentive service and is reasonably priced and profitable - sometimes a few dollars more get you much more in value.
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 09:25
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Southwest treats its pax EXTREMELY well. In fact I find the flight attendents and crew on SWA more friendly than the other majors (no offense to those of you who work for american, delta, united, etc). Southwest people seem to have a humourous good nature about them, wherease other airlines are "strictly business".

PAX on SWA seem to be especially friendlier than those on delta, united,& american. I cannot count how many times I've had to sit next to some incredibly rude person on united, but for some odd reason this never seems to happen on swa. Weird.

The boarding process is fine. Does it really matter where you sit on these short flights anyway? Come on it's a 737, unless you're made of pure lard and can't fit in a middle seat all the seats are basically the same. Anyway, southwest doesn't start boarding an hour before the plane takes off....most of the time as soon as everyone is comfortable and seated you're taxiing.

And as for the extras that other airlines offer, I think most people could care less, especially about the food and assigned seating. Both of those things are just annoying and on most fights I would rather starve myself or eat a carry on bananna than eat airline food.

The only thing nice on "full service airlines" are the inflight movies, but again on swa's short flights you wouldn't even have time to finish one.

Sure first class is nice, but pay twice as much just so I can put an extra 2 inchs between me and my neighbor? I'll pass.

On the other hand I did enjoy flying on the delta 777 from gatwick to atl. The monitors in the headrests were incredibly entertaining.

If only Southwest used 777's....

[ 02 November 2001: Message edited by: Alchemy ]
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 11:35
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If the category is "crappy service", they certainly get my vote as #1
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 19:59
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I view Southwest's service levels as just barely above those of AIRTRAN (not very good). But, I guess the cliche applies "you get what you pay for..."

I once had a happy-go-lucky Southwest flight attendant/cheerleader tell me on a frosty stop-over in wintery St. Louis that I couldn't have a scarce blanket because she couldn't reach high enough to actually pull the blanket out of the overhead. I then asked her if she had requested help from others in the area - her answer: "nope." That was that - no resolution. I was left puzzled - as were a few people who had overheard the conversation. I was left shivering (breathe clearly visible) and the one remaining blanket had been taken by then. You never see that on their commercials...

If given a choice, I'll take JetBlue instead!
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 22:20
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Don't lose sight of what "Market Cap" means -- It is "Market Capitalization," the current market value of its stock.

With all the reported losses at the other carriers, and the resulting loss of confidence in their stocks, it's understandable that their stocks have gone into the toilet. OTOH, SWA has reported actual profits, so confidence in their stock remains high.

Market Cap fluctuates daily. Some days, Microsoft has been "worth more" than GE (in recent times, the "largest" US company in terms of Market Capitalization). The physical assets and number of employees at MS are an order of magnitude less than that of GE, however...
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Old 3rd Nov 2001, 09:49
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According to what I've read in various magazines about Southwest's creation, Mr. Herb Kelleher based the airline's pricing philosophy literally on Texas bus ticket prices, in order to compete WITH the bus companies for the same passengers.

Four years ago, a Southwest Captain told me that he was asked by one of his older Flight Attendants about the value of her company stock (her retirement fund). She had been around for either twenty or twenty five years. Based on several stock splits etc, her retirement was then worth about either US $700,000 or 800,000. Could this be good for older employees' morale and attitudes (except on a bad day)?

In order to 'compare and contrast', the former and present beancounters at the other US major airlines probably have trouble with the concept of employee commitment and long-term financial incentives, unless it goes into their own upper management three-piece suit pockets.

Try reading up on Mssrs. Wolf and Gangb**g, woops, I mean Gangwal, at USAirways. The October issue of either "Airways" or "Airliner" magazine (found in the larger US bookstores) had a very interesting article on which airline CEOs seem to be leaders instead of managers. Several were featured. The value of Mr. Wolf's pay/stock portfolio in particular, described within the context of the industry and Wolf's/Gangwal's recent operating philosophy (having both left the ship's bridge for a long sleep with bad weather nearby), based upon their assumptions that USAirways would certainly be sold, appears in my opinion quite gross and shocking. If what the article describes is accurate, maybe the USAirways Board of Directors can recruit a leader, somehow, somewhere. Good luck to y'all.

Would any USAirways employees/mgmt types care to comment?

[ 03 November 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]

[ 03 November 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]
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Old 3rd Nov 2001, 13:20
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The fact that, after the first sector, there is no walk-round intrigues me. Yes, we can all improve performance if we cut safety margins...

[ 03 November 2001: Message edited by: HugMonster ]
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