What Is The Difference Between Pacific Southwest Airlines and Southwest Airlines?

Robert Trajkovski
2 min readMay 28, 2021
robert trajkovski

The other day I saw a post on Frank B. Mengert’s LinkedIn feed about Beware of Imitations. It made me think about the validity of that statement.

Aren’t we all a bit of an imitation of others?

That is why I posed the hook for this article to be a question about the difference between Pacific Southwest Airlines and Southwest Airlines. So do you know the difference between the two?

It is obvious. One has the word pacific in front and the other one does not.

Seriously. Pacific Southwest existed before Southwest airlines.

The part that is not different between the two is their model. Southwest blatantly copied the business model of Pacific Southwest.

Was it wrong to do so? Nope, they even collaborated and learned from Pacific directly what was their model. Southwest never directly completed against Pacific.

So what do we learn about copying from this story?

Southwest copied BUT they survived. Pacific does not exist anymore.

Why?

Southwest copied the model and stuck with it but over time Pacific walked away from the model that made them great enough to study. They innovated beyond the model that Southwest copied.

That pulls me into two different lines of thought.

First, it is believed that a business has to continue innovating even when it has products. Maybe? Maybe not? I have never heard of Southwest labeled as an innovative company. They are an extremely profitable company that has consistently stuck to their model of being the lowest price airline that flies only one type of plane to smaller airports.

Second, many times people put China down for copying us. We are the Pacific in that example. We are trying to figure out how to become more innovative. They are simply copying and repeating.

Now let us not be foolish, China has a large highly educated group that has been educated in the west. They are going to be an innovative force that we will have to deal with in the future. They are not just copying BUT innovating.

5G anyone…

BUT be careful with completely abandoning your true and tested model. Maybe a small bit of innovation with a large consistent execution is better than lots of innovation with small inconsistent execution.

My four cents…

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Robert Trajkovski

I have led people and projects in Steel/ Power, Refining, Chemicals, Industrial Gasses, Software, Consulting and Academia. I have instructed 73+ courses.