Of all the frightening words that populate the world of commercial aviation -- "delay" and "lost," to name two -- none are more petrifying than "malfunction." Southwest Airlines
On Friday, Southwest Flight 812 from Phoenix to Sacramento lost cabin pressure when cracks in the fuselage opened into a five-foot-wide hole. The flight landed safely, and Southwest began a program of intensified inspections the next day, resulting in roughly 370 cancelled flights.
But getting aggressive has also yielded benefits. As of Sunday, the carrier was able to confidently return to service 19 of the 79 Boeing
For investors, Flight 812's emergency landing and the subsequent inspections raise questions over whether Southwest needs to modernize its fleet. If so, the company's edge over United
However, I'm not so sure that this even matters. Southwest's culture of service -- its competitive edge -- shows no signs of changing. According to passenger reports I've read, airline employees are personally reaching out to affected customers. The effort seems to be strengthening bonds that were tight to begin with.
Passenger Julian Huerta told a reporter from Austin, Texas TV station KXAN that he didn't even consider rebooking a cancelled Southwest flight on another carrier. Want to bet that he isn't the only one?
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Let us know what you think about the incident, the airline's capital spending needs, and Southwest's service using the comments box below.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy always passes inspection.