Southwest Airlines Makes Fortune’s 2023 List of Most Admired Companies

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 on the tarmac.
John Crowley from Seattle, WA, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

LONDON – Southwest Airlines has been named on FORTUNE’s 2023 list of World’s Most Admired Companies.

The US low-cost carrier ranked No. 23 overall and No. 3 on the airline industry list, improving its ranking from FORTUNE’s 2022 list. Southwest has been featured consistently on the World’s Most Admired Companies list since 2009.

“It’s truly an honor for Southwest Airlines to be among FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired Companies this year,” said Southwest Airlines President & CEO Bob Jordan.

“We consider this a recognition of our strong brand, our terrific Employees, and the extraordinary ways they serve each other and our Customers.”

About the Fortune methodology


To create the list, FORTUNE collaborated with partner Korn Ferry to survey 15,000 senior executives, outside directors, and industry analysts, to identify companies that enjoy the strongest reputations within their industries and across industries.

The World’s Most Admired Companies receive ratings on nine attributes. This year, they surveyed 645 companies in 27 countries.

To determine the best-regarded companies in 52 industries, Korn Ferry asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate enterprises in their own industry on nine criteria.

These criteria ranged from investment value and quality of management and products to social responsibility and ability to attract talent. A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey to be listed.

Southwest Airlines recent struggles


Southwest Airlines started off the year of 2023 on the back foot. A meltdown of what was characterised as an archaic operational software system resulted in pandemonium when inclement weather conditions resulted in mass operational delays.

In mid-January, the carrier offered the following statement:

“During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, our Customers and Employees–including some of you–endured operational issues that greatly disrupted holiday and end-of-year plans.”

“We want you to know that we are making every effort to prevent that from happening again.”

“Emerging from some of the most challenging days in our Company’s history, we are highly focused on our Customers, our recovery, and our plan going forward.”

Airline action plan


Subsequently, the airline put forward the following rectification plan:

Immediate Actions: Following the disruption, we moved swiftly to put mitigation elements in place to further reduce the risk of future operational disruptions that could impede Customer travel plans.

Some of those efforts already in progress include:

  • Establishing supplemental operational staffing that can quickly mobilize to support Crew recovery efforts
  • Enhancing our Crew engagement technology to efficiently communicate with large numbers of Crew Members during frequent schedule changes
  • Updating and upgrading our Crew recovery system to not only solve current and future schedules, but also provide the ability to optimize established schedules as we revise them during irregular operations

Going Forward: While we have mitigated risks in the short-term, we are taking additional steps to review the events and make thoughtful recommendations on future actions.

  • We’ve engaged a third-party global aviation consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, to complete an assessment of the event and make recommendations of additional mitigation elements for us to consider.
  • Our Board of Directors appointed an Operations Review Committee that is working with management to understand the events and help oversee the Company’s response.
  • We commit to keep you updated as we make progress on these efforts as well as additional steps to prevent an event like this from happening again.
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