South West goes coast to coast

Wings Level

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In the last few days there has been many good articles
posted by USA Today about the airline industry. Here
is one that talks about South West's plans to go coast-to-coast.

While it is my opinion that new routes are always a positive step
forward for pilots (especially additions made by majors), I am
hesitant to believe that this will be positive for the industry as a whole. Instead of creating market share, the additional route will
seek to take market share. To accomplish this, they will increase pressure on price competition which will make it difficult for the indutry as a whole to make a healthy profits from bread and butter routes.

While it is likely that South West plans is to compete as a low cost alternative "without the frills" alternative. How will passengers embrace the lack of additional comforts often provided with long haul flights?

As we are well aware, when profit margins get slimmer, management places more focus on the variable costs such as
meals and pilot compensation, etc. With fares becoming less expensive all the time, how much more will varible costs be reduced to make an unprofitable flight into a profitable one.

I have to admit that it's exciting to see South West open new
routes. I've always admired the airline and wish their pilot group
the best.

I'm curious to hear the opinions of others on this recent event. What measures will other airlines take to protect their market share? What kind of analysis did the airline make to dertermine
that this would be a profitable additition. Will the addition of the
new 737s have a negative effect on the low cost maintenance of South West's homogeneous fleet of older 737 200's?

What do you think?
http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2002-05-07-southwest-flights.htm
 

chperplt

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People fly coast to coast on Southwest every day. It usually takes them though 2,3, or 4 different cities, but they already fly coast to coast. The same passengers that fly them today will continue to fly them. They will be happier passengers now that they will be able to cut a few hours off their trip.

While it is likely that South West plans is to compete as a low cost alternative "without the frills" alternative. How will passengers embrace the lack of additional comforts often provided with long haul flights?
Again, the passengers that already fly Southwest will continue to fly them. Passengers that are looking for the additional comforts that first or business class provide, do not generally fly Southwest anyway. Coach class on most "major" carriers do not provide many services these days that Southwest does not.


As we are well aware, when profit margins get slimmer, management places more focus on the variable costs such as meals and pilot compensation, etc. With fares becoming less expensive all the time, how much more will variable costs be reduced to make an unprofitable flight into a profitable one.
We've already seen most air carriers do away with much of the food service they once had. If I'm not mistaken, Southwest has continually shown a profit almost every year. They aren't going to take a route that they do not feel will be profitable.


Will the addition of the new 737s have a negative effect on the low cost maintenance of South West's homogeneous fleet of older 737 200's?
The following is the current breakdown of Southwest's fleet of 737s. You can see that only 27 aircraft are -200s. Newer aircraft generally provide for less expensive maintenance and more fuel efficient engines that save additional expense. In addition, new aircraft come with some type of warranty to further reduce maintenance expense.


Type # seats
737-200 27 122
737-300 194 137
737-500 25 122
737-700 118 137
 

sweptwingz

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As a fractional driver.....

I may ruffle a few feathers with my opinion, but here goes....

The majors did this to themselves. There was a time when airlines
were "tiered". There were majors, and second tier, or discounted,
carriers. The majors prided themselves on service, room, luxury,
quality food, in general, a highend product. The discount carriers
were in general, "cattle car" affairs. All that mattered was the price.

Enter the 1990s.... corporate greed, and SURPRISE....there is no longer any difference between the two. Pay 200 bucks on SouthWest, get a cramped seat, and a bag of peanuts. Pay 400
dollars on DAL, UAL, NWA, and guess what.....NO DIFFERENCE.

I make it a point to ask most of my fractional customers why they
no longer ride the airlines. All most 100% tell me: "first class /
business class, no longer exist....why pay 1000 dollars for a class
Y-8 fare with bag of peanuts, when I can have steak and lobster,
legroom, and genuine...ON TIME, service"?

The discount carriers have won the war. And, unless a paradigm
shift occurs in this industry, SouthWest, JetBlue, AirTran, and the
like will BE the majors. There will be fewer "high end" paying
careers. Please don't take this as an affront to SWA or JB crews,
I have friends there, and ride those carriers myself. But the
pendulum is swinging...and times, they are a changin'.

I sincerely wish all crews the best of luck. We'll all need it.
 

Wings Level

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chperplt, excellent points.

"Again, the passengers that already fly Southwest will continue to fly them. Passengers that are looking for the additional comforts that first or business class provide, do not generally fly Southwest anyway. Coach class on most "major" carriers do not provide many services these days that Southwest does not. "

What you said is very true. Apart from having first class sections, the service provided by other airlines is almost exactly the same as South West's. Thus, I am have to wonder what it really means to be "a low cost carrier" if every airline has almost the same service. Although I have not flown Jet Blue ( a low cost carrier), they appear to be providing even better service than tradional carriers where we expect to see additional comforts.
Direct TV and leather seats sounds pretty good.

If low cost carriers provide the same service, I question what it means today to be a "low cost carrier".
 

bigbuck

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How many more years will the "majors" sit and watch Southwest operate in the black while they bleed themselves to death. Obviously Southwest has pilots lined up at the front door looking for a job and they don't even get paid the best after they buy their own type rating! Southwest pilots fly sometimes double the amount of legs in one day as there counterparts at the "majors". I have heard "major" pilots on the employee bus bitching because they have a three leg day! Come on. Maybe the Southwest pay scale is the future. Maybe both the management and the pilots at the "majors" will end up having to give a little in order to keep the companies going. That may take a miracle though.
 
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