What advice might Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO Gary Kelly impart to American Airlines and the travel industry about direct-connect?
The top guy at Southwest, which pioneered direct-to-consumer distribution in the U.S., would only answer an analyst's question tongue-in-cheek.
"It's horribly complicated, terrifically expensive and I think they should be doing what they've been doing all these years," Kelly said.
In other words, airlines should stick with GDS distribution so Southwest can continue to reap a competitive advantage.
Kelly's statement came during the airline's conference call today about its fourth quarter 2010 financial results.
For the quarter, Southwest set all kinds of operational records and recorded net income of $131 million, a 12.9% increase compared with the fourth quarter of 2009. Revenue rose 14% to $2.9 billion. Southwest said it picked up domestic market share during the quarter, as well.
Kelly revealed that the airline has no intention of altering its no-change fee policy, adding that doing so would destroy the goodwill Southwest has engendered for its bags-fly-free policies.
Southwest would rather have a customer than a bag fee, Kelly said.
He added that the airline won't change its boarding and seating systems, which means if the airline's AirTran acquisition closes as expected in the second quarter, Southwest eventually would end AirTran's first class and assigned seating policies.