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Southwest Airlines still competitive

11 June 2007

Never afraid to spurn conventional wisdom, Southwest Airlines is doing it again. While other airlines are reducing domestic seats in response to softening demand, the low-cost carrier is doing the opposite, expanding routes and flights in pursuit of a decades-long growth plan.

Already, the number of passengers on each Southwest aircraft has fallen. The jets are about 69 percent full on average this year, compared with 71 percent during the corresponding period in 2006.

Southwest has pursued a policy of adding flights, seats and planes to gain market share, even in tough times. While other carriers were reeling from a major economic downturn and slashing their fleets, Southwest has added 120 planes since 2002, bringing the total to 494. It also increased the number of flights by 15 percent and its available seat miles, an industry measure of capacity, by 35 percent from 2002 through the end of last year.

Southwest is considering getting into a code-sharing agreement with an international carrier or offering its own overseas flights.

source: Home & Away

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