The reason that Southwest Airlines performed so well comprised many factors. To make the analysis as short and clear as possible without repeating the case too much, I see Southwest's success can be sub-divided into 3 areas of market, cost control, and quality from way the case author has organized.
The far most important factor is that Southwest has chosen the type of market it entered. Southwest Airline found its niche market in short-hauls. Rather than competing long flight hours with other airlines, the airline has chosen to specialized itself in a replacement between ground-transportations and other airlines, and compete with them. Southwest has marketed itself well in the time that short-haul was what consumers were looking for. In another words, the market environment was suitable during the time of its launch.
Besides market that Southwest has chosen, the quality of the service was also very important for its success.
I mean quality not in terms of providing luxurious first class seats and food, but in terms of on-time percentage and fast travel time overall. Externally, establishing self ticketing machines for faster check-ins, closer location to city commute, launching distinctive customer service really brought many customer loyalties to Southwest Airlines.
Third, cost control and pricing. Southwest has a very strong competitive strategy that enables the company to dominate the market, as well as sustaining itself from the price wars. What I think of the most brilliant idea was the quick turnover rate of airplane costs that mentioned in page 120 of the case study. Instead to keep the planes until they're not operable, the average life for Southwest's planes is 7 years. With some simple math, the difference between $27 millions in 20 years, and $7 million in 7 years, is .35 million a year, per plane. That...