IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The evolving market entry strategy: A comparative study of Southwest and JetBlue


  • Zou, Li
  • Yu, Chunyan


This paper studies the market entry patterns and evolving strategies adopted by Southwest and JetBlue. Based on the quarterly data from US T100 Domestic Segment database, we trace Southwest’s successful market entries from 1993 to 2016, and those of JetBlue from 2000 to 2016, and estimate a set of discrete choice models to investigate the factors that may attract or deter route entries by Southwest and JetBlue. These factors reflect route distance, traffic demand, market power of the carriers, route competition, and connectivity and traffic concentration at endpoint airports, etc. The paper also examines the similarity and dissimilarity between Southwest and JetBlue with respect to the effects of these factors on their entry decisions, and how their route entry decisions have evolved over time. Our results indicate that both Southwest and JetBlue are more likely to enter routes where they have higher market share in terms of traffic and connectivity at endpoint airports, but they are less likely to enter routes involving endpoint airports with higher concentration in either traffic or connectivity. While Southwest appears to prefer routes with short to medium distance in the 1990s, it has started to target longer distance routes since 2000. JetBlue has consistently preferred longer distance routes. While the number of legacy rivals on a given route may deter market entry by Southwest, it does not appear to have any significant effect on the entry decisions by JetBlue. Moreover, the presence of other LCCs may have deterred the market entry by Southwest during the 1993–1999 period, and by JetBlue during the 2000–2006 period, its entry-deterrence effects has been becoming less important as the two airlines continue their growth and market expansion. The results further suggest that Southwest has continued to be hesitant to enter routes that have asymmetric traffic volume at endpoint airports, but it has become more drawn to routes with broader connections and higher traffic at endpoint airports as it moves into the business passenger segment.

Suggested Citation

  • Zou, Li & Yu, Chunyan, 2020. "The evolving market entry strategy: A comparative study of Southwest and JetBlue," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 682-695.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:132:y:2020:i:c:p:682-695
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2019.12.009

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Detzen, Dominic & Jain, Pankaj K. & Likitapiwat, Tanakorn & Rubin, Rose M., 2012. "The impact of low cost airline entry on competition, network expansion, and stock valuations," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-63.
    2. Federico Ciliberto & Elie Tamer, 2009. "Market Structure and Multiple Equilibria in Airline Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1791-1828, November.
    3. Harumi Ito & Darin Lee, 2003. "Incumbent Responses to Lower Cost Entry: Evidence from the U.S. Airline Industry," Working Papers 2003-22, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    4. Tsoukalas, Gerassimos & Belobaba, Peter & Swelbar, William, 2008. "Cost convergence in the US airline industry: An analysis of unit costs 1995–2006," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 179-187.
    5. Kathleen Cleeren & Frank Verboven & Marnik G. Dekimpe & Katrijn Gielens, 2010. "Intra- and Interformat Competition Among Discounters and Supermarkets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(3), pages 456-473, 05-06.
    6. Austan Goolsbee & Chad Syverson, 2008. "How Do Incumbents Respond to the Threat of Entry? Evidence from the Major Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1611-1633.
    7. Charles Boguslaski & Harumi Ito & Darin Lee, 2004. "Entry Patterns in the Southwest Airlines Route System," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 25(3), pages 317-350, August.
    8. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1991. "Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 977-1009, October.
    9. Windle, Robert & Dresner, Martin, 1999. "Competitive responses to low cost carrier entry," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 59-75, March.
    10. Chia-Mei Liu, 2009. "Entry Behaviour and Financial Distress: An Empirical Analysis of the US Domestic Airline Industry," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 43(2), pages 237-256, May.
    11. Gayle, Philip G. & Wu, Chi-Yin, 2013. "A re-examination of incumbents’ response to the threat of entry: Evidence from the airline industry," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 119-130.
    12. Berry, Steven T, 1992. "Estimation of a Model of Entry in the Airline Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 889-917, July.
    13. Merkert, Rico & Morrell, Peter S., 2012. "Mergers and acquisitions in aviation – Management and economic perspectives on the size of airlines," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 853-862.
    14. Geroski, P. A., 1995. "What do we know about entry?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 421-440, December.
    15. Bachwich, Alexander R. & Wittman, Michael D., 2017. "The emergence and effects of the ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) business model in the U.S. airline industry," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 155-164.
    16. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, 1990. "Entry in Monopoly Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 531-553.
    17. Morrison, Steven A & Winston, Clifford, 1990. "The Dynamics of Airline Pricing and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 389-393, May.
    18. Berry, Steven & Reiss, Peter, 2007. "Empirical Models of Entry and Market Structure," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: Mark Armstrong & Robert Porter (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1845-1886, Elsevier.
    19. Aguirregabiria, Victor & Ho, Chun-Yu, 2010. "A dynamic game of airline network competition: Hub-and-spoke networks and entry deterrence," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 377-382, July.
    20. Ben Abda, Mehdi & Belobaba, Peter P. & Swelbar, William S., 2012. "Impacts of LCC growth on domestic traffic and fares at largest US airports," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 21-25.
    21. Zou, Li & Yu, Chunyan & Rhoades, Dawna & Waguespack, Blaise, 2017. "The pricing responses of non-bag fee airlines to the use of bag fees in the US air travel market," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 209-219.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dürr, Niklas S. & Hüschelrath, Kai, 2016. "Deregulation and the determinants of entry: Evidence from the German interurban bus industry," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-054, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Homsombat, Winai & Lei, Zheng & Fu, Xiaowen, 2014. "Competitive effects of the airlines-within-airlines strategy – Pricing and route entry patterns," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-16.
    3. Kai Hüschelrath & Kathrin Müller, 2013. "Patterns and Effects of Entry in U.S. Airline Markets," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 221-253, June.
    4. Aradillas-Lopez, Andres, 2012. "Pairwise-difference estimation of incomplete information games," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 168(1), pages 120-140.
    5. Federico Ciliberto & Zhou Zhang, 2017. "Multiple Equilibria And Deterrence In Airline Markets," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 319-338, January.
    6. Kline, Brendan & Tamer, Elie, 2012. "Bounds for best response functions in binary games," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 92-105.
    7. Kim, Sung-Hwan, 2009. "Predatory reputation in US airline markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 592-604, September.
    8. Wang, Kun & Tsui, Wai Hong Kan & Li, Lan-Bing & Lei, Zheng & Fu, Xiaowen, 2020. "Entry pattern of low-cost carriers in New Zealand - The impact of domestic and trans-Tasman market factors," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 36-45.
    9. Pazgal, Amit & Soberman, David & Thomadsen, Raphael, 2016. "Profit-increasing asymmetric entry," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 107-122.
    10. Bontemps, Christian & Kumar, Rohit, 2020. "A geometric approach to inference in set-identified entry games," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 218(2), pages 373-389.
    11. Nishida, Mitsukuni & Gil, Ricard, 2014. "Regulation, enforcement, and entry: Evidence from the Spanish local TV industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 11-23.
    12. Kai Huschelrath & Kathrin Muller, 2014. "The Value Of Bluer Skies. – How Much Do Consumers Gain From Entry By Jetblue Airways In Long-Haul U.S. Airline Markets?," Articles, International Journal of Transport Economics, vol. 41(1).
    13. Maria José Gil-Moltó & Claudio A. Piga, 2007. "Entry and Exit in a Liberalised Market," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(1), pages 3-38, January-F.
    14. Mitsukuni Nishida, 2015. "Estimating a Model of Strategic Network Choice: The Convenience-Store Industry in Okinawa," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(1), pages 20-38, January.
    15. Zuidberg, Joost, 2019. "Network geographies and financial performances in low-cost carrier versus network carrier competition: The case of Norwegian versus SAS," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-1.
    16. Zhang, Yahua & Sampaio, Breno & Fu, Xiaowen & Huang, Zhibin, 2018. "Pricing dynamics between airline groups with dual-brand services," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 46-59.
    17. Stephen Martin, 2012. "Market Structure and Market Performance," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 40(2), pages 87-108, March.
    18. Bontemps, Christian & Kumar, Rohit, 2018. "A Geometric Approach to Inference in Set-Identified Entry Games," TSE Working Papers 18-943, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Mar 2019.
    19. Lalit Manral, 2015. "The demand-side dynamics of entrant heterogeneity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 401-445, April.
    20. Fu, Xiaowen & Jin, Huan & Liu, Shaoxuan & Oum, Tae H. & Yan, Jia, 2019. "Exploring network effects of point-to-point networks: An investigation of the spatial patterns of Southwest Airlines’ network," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 36-45.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:132:y:2020:i:c:p:682-695. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.