Southwest, Continental head Fortune’s airline list


Fortune magazine has released its rankings of most admired companies. For airlines, there seems to be two messages:

– It’s good to be from Texas

– It’s not good to have filed for bankruptcy this decade.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines headed the list, followed by Houston-based Continental Airlines. Fort Worth-based AMR, parent of American Airlines, ranked fifth.

The four major carriers who filed for bankruptcy between 2002 and 2005 finished in the bottom group, headed by No. 6 Delta Air Lines. Northwest Airlines ranked eighth, US Airways Group ninth and UAL, parent of United Airlines, was 10th.

Among all companies and industries, only Southwest Airlines showed up in the top 20, finishing 12th.

Here’s what Fortune reporter Barney Gimbel wrote about Southwest:

It was officially the second-worst year in aviation history. More than a quarter of all flights in the U.S. arrived late. Planes were packed. Airports were madhouses. Passengers were irate. So the fact that any airline is considered admirable says something.
Southwest, which dropped seven spots this year, to No. 12, shows it’s possible to shine even in an otherwise dire industry. Besides posting its 35th consecutive year of profitability, it was the most punctual, lost the fewest bags, and had the least complaints compared with its peers. But its stock lagged, and there’s fear that its quirky culture is starting to go stale.

Below are the rankings for airlines:

Most admired

Rank Company Overall score
1 Southwest Airlines 8.02
2 Continental Airlines 7.8
3 Alaska Air Group 5.81
4 JetBlue Airways 5.25
5 AMR 5.2

Rank Company Overall score
6 Delta Air Lines 5.04
7 SkyWest 4.62
8 Northwest Airlines 4.55
9 US Airways Group 4.54
10 UAL 4.52