I'd like to get your feedback on this. What would you say if I said that in many ways, Mr. Herbert Kelleher is a modern day Juan Terry Trippe (for those of you who don't know, Mr. Tripped founded and built the original Clipper Pan Am). Consider the following parallels between the two men and their airlines (summarized):
Both almost single handedly ran their airlines from the start for several decades
Both (airlines) were models of success that many airlines later copied.
Both were said to be the "leaders" in what they did.
Both were air travel trailblazers (transoceanic, transcontinental, jet service for Pan Am, and cheap, mass transportation for Southwest).
Both (airlines) were considered impenetrable and seemed assured of being the "leader" for millenia.
Both (airlines) were launch customers for highly successful aircraft types
Both refused to deviate from their initial business plans that kept them strong for so long.
Both bought an airline and later regretted doing so
(National for Pan Am and Muse Air for Southwest)
Both lost their momentum after losing their longtime "father". Pan Am eventually floundered. None of the subsequent leaders of Pan Am shared Mr Trippes vison, expertise, or mastery of the airline.
Now that Southwest is losing Mr Kelleher, and so many airlines closing in on Southwest (JetBlue, Frontier, Midway, AA, UA, DL, etc), and many people taking a "second look" at WN, could Southwest possibly be at the place that was unthinkable just a few years ago? At the beginning of its end? After having just one leader for so long, will Herbs successor be able to continue that airlines success? Or will the departure of Mr Kelleher be the first nail in WN's coffin?
There are a lot more similarites than differences between PA and WN than many of us may have imagined. Remember, "never" is the most dangerous word in the airline industry. What may "never" happen today, may be reality tomorrow.
Remember, there was a time when no one ever, EVER thought that Pan Am, TWA, or Eastern would ever go under. And 20 years ago, who would've imagined that little tiny Southwest out of Dallas would be the much respected and huge airline they are today.
What do you think?