Sunday, August 27, 2006
Slow and steady wins the race
In 1998, Southwest Airlines went as far 'northeast' as they could get by coming to Manchester. The carrier boldly launched 12 flights from MHT: (8) to Baltimore-Washington; (2) to Chicago-Midway; (1) to Nashville, TN; and (1) to Orlando. Over the years, Southwest adjusted their schedules a bit at MHT. Gone is Nashville but viva Las Vegas, Tampa, and Philly! Southwest grew during a time when virtually all other carriers pulled inward and shrank. Today, Baltimore flights are now 11; Philadelphia is five; Orlando and Chicago now sit at four flights apiece; Tampa is three; and Las Vegas is one. That's 16 more flights, or 133% growth since Southwest came to town in 1998. No other carrier has done anywhere near as well at MHT, and the result is domination for Southwest.
Southwest drew rave reviews from industry watchers when it came to Manchester in 1998. By serving 'Boston' from Providence and Manchester rather than from Logan, the carrier was able to capture market share without dealing with Logan Airport. It turned out to be a brilliant move, as the MHT-BWI market zoomed up the charts and Manchester turned out to be one of Southwest's highest load-factor stations. As the saying goes: Build it, and they will come. And passengers came, in droves.
What sets Southwest apart from other carriers is that they simply set themselves apart. From cutting-edge marketing (see: 'DING!') to market domination, Southwest is to the world of legacy carriers what Disney World is to Canobie Lake.
They have the recipe right, and we know it.