Discount Airlines Compete with Legacy Airlines, but the Differences Are Beginning to Blur, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

For 2016, discount carrier Southwest Airlines pulled ahead of American Airlines to reclaim its first-place rank among U.S. airlines, with 147.6 million passenger enplanements (up by 5.42% over the previous year), followed by Delta with 118.4 million (up 4.37%) and American Airlines with 117.3 million (up 38.43% and boosted significantly by its 2015 acquisition of US Airways).  United (which merged with Continental in 2011) totaled 72.8 million enplanements (up 7.02%); and JetBlue had 30.8 million (up 8.91%).  These numbers include enplanements for both domestic and international flights. Since its first flight in 1971, Southwest and its no-frills business model have…

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