January 03, 2024

Southwest Airlines Is the World's Largest Airline by ASKs in 2023

It comes as the airline spent 10 months preparing for smooth operations this winter.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is topping the list as the largest airline in the world based on available seat kilometers (ASKs). Throughout 2023, the low-cost airline has been a popular choice in the US domestic market despite its historical meltdown during this time last year.

With more than 600 billion ASKs, Southwest reportedly surpassed the big three US carriers, succeeding its closest rival, American Airlines, by nearly 10%. The achievement was months in the making, as the airline recently provided details on how it was able to dig itself out of its operational catastrophe.

Heightened performance

According to flight database and statistics provider OAG, Southwest offered 619 billion ASKs this year, a significant improvement compared to other leading airlines in the US. The carrier operated 9% more ASKs than Fort Worth-based American, proving popularity among travelers looking for flights priced at lower costs.

Over the summer, Southwest operated its largest-ever-peak-season schedule of more than 4,300 daily flights with “very minimal cancelations during holiday weekends.” The momentum lasted through Thanksgiving as the airline carried over 5 million passengers during the holiday travel period. Southwest also noted that its on-time performance was above 97% on Thanksgiving, and it experienced a single-day record on the Sunday after the holiday, carrying 615,000 travelers.

“Investments and initiatives”

Following the carrier’s high-profile disaster that displaced thousands of passengers last holiday, the airline has made some improvements and investments in its operation. In a statement, the airline cited improved reliability, resilience, and customer service for its heightened performance in 2023.

Month-by-month gameplan

Leading to its successful performance so far this holiday season, Southwest spent the first 10 months of the year preparing. From January to February, the carrier “took immediate action” by allowing travelers to rebook their flights affected at no extra cost. Automatic direct messaging and call center capacities were also increased. More than $600 million in ticket refunds and additional expenses were reimbursed, and 25,000 Rapid Rewards points were given to affected members.

The bulk of Southwest’s enhancements reportedly occurred between March and October. The airline improved winter preparedness by ordering new deicing trucks, adding fuel support equipment at key airports, and hiring nearly 13,000 new employees, including more than 60 crew schedulers.

Operationally, the carrier launched new bag-tracking capabilities on its website and mobile app. Over 35 upgrades were added to its crew scheduling system, and a network optimization tool to enhance network decisions during irregular operations was introduced. Improvements to cross-team collaborations resulted in department alignment for network planning and operations control, a winter ops playbook, crew member support, and a disruption pod – a cross-operational team.

Southwest’s entire Disruption Action Plan, designed to ensure smooth operations despite the circumstances, is listed on the airline’s website.

Copyright 2024 simpleflying.com. All rights reserved. From https://simpleflying.com. By Channing Reil.

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