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Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines has been profitable since 1973â�"an enviable record no other U.S. airline can match, let alone beat. Much of the credit for the airline's enduring success goes to CIO Herb Kelleher, an affable, hard-driving leader whose fun-loving personality pervades the entire organization, top to bottom. After all, how many airlines have the ticker symbol LUV or paint Seaworld's "Shamu the Whale" on a jetliner?
The history of Southwest reflects its CEO's tenacity. Kelleher had a law practice in San Antonio when a client suggested starting a discount airline to link three Texas cities. After five years of legal battles due to competitors' objectionsâ�"before deregulation opened the skies to anything-goes competition and pricingâ�"southwest finally got off the ground in 1971. To keep airfares low, the start-up avoided extras such as meal service and got planes in and out of the gate in twenty minutes or less. The airline now serves dozens of cities across the United States using the original formula of low prices, low costs, and high productivity to keep profits high. In fact, Southwest's operating margins are now three times higher than the industry average.
Kelleher knows that other airlines can buy the same planes and fly the same routes, even set the same prices. What they can't imitate, he pointedly notes, is Southwest's legendary team spirit. The workforce of 30,000 is fiercely loyal to Kelleher and the company, pitching in to get things done on time and within budget. Consider the reaction when Kelleher wrote a memo warning employees that rising fuel prices threatened the airline's profitability and asking every employee to find a way to save $5 per day. Within six, employees had dreamed up enough cost-cutting measures to save more than $2 millionâ�"and ideas were still coming in.
Under Kelleher, Southwest has made flying fun for employees and passengers...

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