Founded in 1971, Southwest Airlines Co. is one of the world's most respected and awarded airlines. The company is known for offering customers great value and excellent service. Currently, Southwest Airlines Co. services 121 airports in 11 countries. The year 2021 marked the company's 51st anniversary, and it continues to work toward democratizing the sky by providing a reliable, low-cost air travel experience. More air travelers flying nonstop in the U.S. fly Southwest Airlines Co. than any other major airline.
Southwest Airlines operates a large fleet of 771 Boeing 737 aircraft, making it the largest owner and operator of 737s in the world. It has traditionally only flown Boeing 737s, though it has leased other Boeing models for profitability and route testing. Southwest Airlines Co.'s fleet serves 121 destinations in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as in 10 other countries, including Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Southwest Airlines Co. is based in Dallas and is famous for its employee-first corporate culture. The company has maintained an unprecedented record of no involuntary furloughs or layoffs in its 51-year history, providing employees stability and pride in their employer. Southwest Airlines Co. has led the industry with 47 consecutive years of profitability and growth.
Southwest Airlines Co. uses humor in its marketing, with slogans like "Love Is Still Our Field," "The Somebody Else Up There Who Loves You," "Just Plane Smart" and "You're Now Free to Move About the Country." To increase customer loyalty, the company launched a rewards program in 2011 that awards points for flights, hotel stays, car rentals and purchases at partner retailers, which consumers can redeem for free flights.
Southwest Airlines Co. has significantly influenced other low-cost carriers and the aviation industry as a whole. Its competitive strategy is to increase aircraft and employee productivity to reduce turnaround time at the gate. Ryanair and EasyJet have mirrored this rolling hub or point-to-point network strategy.
Southwest has also had a lot of industry influence through its lobbying efforts, primarily to lobby against the development of high-speed rail systems in favor of providing more point-to-point flights between major cities. However, in recent years, Southwest Airlines Co. has been affected by customer lawsuits, flight delays and cancelations and system disruptions due to not investing in newer technologies.
Southwest Airlines Co. has provided value to its shareholders for many years, having returned more than $12.9 billion through stock repurchases and dividends as of March 2020. However, in the first quarter of 2020, the company had to suspend its dividend payments due to the uncertain market and COVID-19. On December 6, 2022, the board of directors decided to reinstate its quarterly cash dividend at 18 cents per share. This reinstated dividend equaled the expected dividend when it disappeared in 2020.
Southwest Airlines Co. is a leader in the aviation industry, providing great customer service, hospitality, employee stability and value to its shareholders.