Instructions: US Airline Industry

  • Looking at the overall performance of the US airline industry during the last 20 years of the case study, I want you to think about the extent to which the industry’s low average profitability during this period can be attributed to the structure of the industry rather than just cyclical and situational events.
  • In your analysis apply Porter’s five forces and determine which force(s) has had the biggest impact in depressing industry profitability.
  • Then considering your determinations, think about what the outlook for industry profitability going forward are and what are strategies by the airlines to date that have been effective in moderating the forces of competition.
  • Then develop alternative strategies that the airlines could use to improve their position and or the industry’s profitability in the future.



Homework Assignments: Each week you are assigned two articles to read and a case study. In addition, you will be given a lecture on topics related to the articles and case study during the prior week’s class. The purpose of these assignments is for you to learn the content of the articles and the lectures and then apply them to your analysis of the case study. For example, in the first week you will be given a short lecture on what strategy is and how it can be articulated. You will then read two articles that discuss these issues in more detail, and read the case study, and then prepare your homework assignment for submission the next week. Note, submissions are due the night before class. Submissions have two components: a single spaced prep sheet (see below) and a one-page double spaced executive summary.





Use this outline to prepare your weekly case preparation sheets. This should server as both a guide to doing the analysis and a guide to communicating your analysis to others. The purpose is to help you outline the breadth of the problem and in communicating to me that you have a grasp of the case study and have developed a recommendation that is supported by your analysis.


Your submission must be no longer than one page, single spaced, 12pt font, 1 inch margins. Use an outline form and bullet points to stay within this confine and to succinctly get your points across. This will not represent all you do in your analysis; it is simply all the space you have to communicate your analysis; therefore, it should tell me what you think is most important for me to know. You’ll find the one-page limit very constraining at first, but you’ll come to like it, as students have in the past. Note how much information I have provided in just this one page.


Note: use these headings to organize and outline your analysis.


  1. Issue(s), – answer the question I asked! Decipher the problems that require immediate action, but are perhaps symptomatic, from those that are more basic and fundamental to the underlying problems in the case, which will by definition require greater effort. Basic issues encompass a greater scope and take more time, but will ultimately address the real underlying
  2. Analysis – apply framework(s) or concept(s) from that week’s readings to the case study. The frameworks and concepts are there to help you organize your analysis, by guiding your analysis,

i.e. deciding what is important and how things fit together. This will inform ways in which the current situation can be altered through various means.

  1. Alternatives and Assessment – you must generate at least three alternative approaches to resolving the issues you have identified. The alternatives should each make sense, given your analysis of the data and application of some framework from the readings. Each should truly be an alternative proposal (not simply a smaller or greater variation of another alternative). Then identify the criteria you will use in selection of an alternative which you will propose as an alternative to the protagonist. There is seldom a single important criterion, so prioritize those you identify and make sure you justify your answer. Then assess how each alternative stacks up to the criteria you have outlined. What evidence from the case data can you apply? In other words, support your answer with evidence from the case and a sound argument as to each alternative’s viability.
  2. Recommendation and Implementation – identify your proposed course of action and identify what you consider the Predicted Outcome. To what degree this will address the issues outlined in A? Then provide your suggestions and estimates as to, for example, Who should be involved, How they should proceed and What they should do. Provide your thoughts and suggestions regarding Timing and what are the important Milestones in this effort.
  3. Assumptions and/or Missing Information – case studies provide a finite amount of information and you’re not expected to conduct research on the case outside of what is provided. If certain information was missing, it might have influenced your analysis and decision, and so you may have had to make some assumptions. Tell me what they are.


Remember: Use this as both guide to conduct the analysis and to organize your submission.


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