Taking off is the easy part of flying. Get a well-designed airplane
to the right speed for its weight and the weather conditions, and
it will leave the ground with very little coaxing. Its the rest of
flying that can be challenging. Thats true with airlines too, and
none is a better example than Southwest Airlines, the carrier that
took off rapidly with its combination of low fares and routes that
avoid congested airports.
Southwest had another advantage that provided extra lift for the
airlineits culture of fun. The flight attendants told jokes and
employees referred to the founder and chairman as Herb.
For more than 30 years, that formula took Southwest to great
heights, but new realities in the airline industry may threaten to
stall its growth. We talked with CEO Gary Kelly about how the
airline is coping with change.
Weve had very successful technical training within our company for
decades. We arguably have the finest pilots and the finest flight
attendants in the world, Kelly says. Except for pilots, most
employees can come into the company with no prior airline
experience and work at the airport, in reservations, or as a flight
attendant. We put them through a technical training program that
has been very successful for us.