Southwest Airlines Ties FedEx as Seventh Most-Admired Company in ... the World!

Fortune just posted its list of the World's Most Admired Companies -- at least, admired by the other bidness folks surveyed by the magazine. Five Dallas-based companies made the list of 363, and they are, in alphabetical order: AT&T, Brinker International, Centex, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments. (Twenty-two Texas-based companies, including Plano-based J.C. Penney and ExxonMobil of Irving, made the list.) Six other local companies coulda been a contender, including Affiliated Computer Services and Crosstex Energy.

Apple tops the list. But how, exactly, did Southwest Airlines place above the likes of Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Target and Nike?

As oil prices soared last year, Southwest kept flying affordable. Unlike many of its rivals that piled on fees, the airline didn't make passengers pay for things like in-flight soft drinks and snacks, or their first two pieces of checked luggage. If that's not admirable, what is?

Still, after 17 years of gains, Southwest has endured two straight quarters of losses. But that's not stopping the company from trying new markets: Southwest just announced plans to start serving Boston's Logan Airport in the fall. Says CEO Gary Kelly: "We just try to be really good at what we do."

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