"We Were Like Cowboys"

In 1971, a hard-drinking Texas lawyer named Herb Kelleher started an aviation revolution. He and a client, businessman Rollin King, wanted to offer customers rock-bottom fares, and their brainchild, Southwest Airlines, did just that. Wildly popular, the upstart spawned a raft of low-cost mimics, first in the U.S., then Europe. Now, no-frills flying is coming to Asia.

"Everywhere low-fare airlines have started, there's always been a claim that it is a different market," says David Huttner, the head of communications and strategy at Virgin Blue. Half owned by flamboyant British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the low-cost...

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