Can Traditionally Structured Airlines Become Customer-Centric, or Do They Have to “Break the Model First?”


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Southwest Airlines broke the model while organizing and has stayed customer-focused ever since. Tellingly, however, when Southwest initiated service in several congested major airports (instead of secondary airports), its vaunted on-time arrival numbers took a whack. Is that because operating out of major airports “unbroken” the mold?

Several Asian airlines have achieved significant levels of customer-centricity seemingly within the traditional model. But perhaps East vs. West cultural differences gave them a route Western airlines can’t take.

What I’m driving at here is I can’t see any possibility American Airlines, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Delta, United et. al. can migrate very far towards customer-centricity. Before merging with united, Continental tried, but at the first sign of economic adversity folded back to the norm.


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