Southwest Airlines on Monday unveiled a new aircraft paint job and branding strategy, a move that may suggest the carrier wants to be known more as a major U.S. airline, on par with American, Delta and United, than an ultra low fare discounter.
Yes, Southwest is still a one-class airline, and, unlike with other airlines, you can't buy Southwest's tickets on Orbitz or Kayak. But increasingly, Southwest looks like the others -- and prices its tickets accordingly. You'll rarely see Southwest fares that are much cheaper than competitors, for example.
Southwest is now an airline devoted to attracting high-value business travelers. It's an airline that has invested majorly in three important airports -- Dallas Love Field, New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan -- while closing its operation at some smaller airports. It's also an airline that will increasingly look outside of the United States for growth opportunities.
In short, Southwest's future looks different than its past.
"With so much of Southwest’s focus firmly set on the future, it was a natural time to look at our visual identity,” Bob Jordan, Southwest's chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
With the shift in branding strategy, long-time Southwest loyalists could be turned off. They might be upset that Southwest has started to look more like the larger airlines. But Southwest probably did need to freshen up its look.
Below, take a look at a new Southwest ad that goes with the new strategy.
This is apparently a big week for livery changes. On Tuesday, Frontier Airlines will announce its new look. I'll be in Denver for the announcement.